Otto Ruff

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Otto Ruff
Born (1871-12-12)December 12, 1871
Schwäbisch Hall, German Empire
Died September 17, 1939(1939-09-17) (aged 67)
Nationality German
Fields Chemist
Doctoral advisor Hermann Emil Fischer
Known for fluorine chemistry, high temperature and high pressure chemistry
Notable awards Liebig Medal

Otto Ruff (December 12, 1871 – September 17, 1939) was a German chemist.


Otto Ruff was born in Schwäbisch Hall, Württemberg. After becoming an pharmacist under the supervision of Carl Magnus von Hell (known from the Hell-Volhard-Zelinsky halogenation) at the University of Stuttgart he joined the group of Hermann Emil Fischer at the University of Berlin. Fischer was noted for his work on carbohydrates (sugars) and so Ruff started his career as organic chemist. In 1898 he published his work on the transformation of d-Glucose to d-Arabinose later called the Ruff degradation. Supported by the far-sighted Fischer who recognized that while organic chemistry was now mature and physical chemistry was growing rapidly, Ruff became head of the new inorganic department in Berlin working alongside Alfred Stock five years his junior. This drastic change in subject benefited Ruff during his work on chlorides sulfur compounds. In 1902 he married Meta Richter a pharmacist, from this marriage he had three children. In 1904 he became professor at the University of Danzig and from 1916 he was head of the inorganic department at the University of Breslau. He died three years after his retirement in 1939. His last years of teaching were made miserable by a privatdozent and assistant, Helmut Hartmann, who had joined the Nazi party and became an "insolent politician" who made life unbearable for many.

Scientific achievements[edit]

Otto Ruff published 290 papers and two books. The books were: "The Chemistry of Fluorine" (published in 1920 by Springer Verlag, Berlin) and "Introduction to Chemical Practicum" (Leipzig 1926, 2nd edition 1937). His papers can be categorized as follows: chemistry of sugars (17 papers), inorganic chemistry of fluorine (86), high temperature chemistry (44), electrolysis of molten salts (9), plastics (10), carbides (20), explosions in mines (7), other fields of inorganic chemistry (72).[1]

Along with Svante Arrhenius, Henri Moissan, and Alfred Werner, all of whom received Nobel Prizes, O. Ruff was regarded as the driver of the achievements of inorganic chemistry in first decades of the 20th century.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Website of the Technical University of Gdansk,


  • W.Hückel (1940). "Obituary: Otto Ruff 30. 12. 1871 - 17. 9. 1939". Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft 73 (12): A125–A156. doi:10.1002/cber.19400731202. 
  • Teresa Sokolowska, Romuald Piosik (2004). "Otto Ruff und Alfred Wohl. Professoren der 1904 gegründeten Königlichen Technischen Hochschule zu Danzig". CHEMKON 11 (2): 76–78. doi:10.1002/ckon.200410006.