Charles Romley Alder Wright
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Charles Romley Alder Wright FCS, FRS (7 September 1844 – 25 June 1894) was an English chemistry and physics researcher at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London. He was the first person to synthesize diamorphine (heroin), in 1874.
Charles Romley Alder Wright was born in Southend, Essex. He was a founding member of the Royal Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland. He served as its first treasurer from 1877 to 1884 and was instrumental in the establishment of the institute. He was a holder of BSc and DSc (Lond). Wright died from complications due to diabetes mellitus on 25 June 1894, at forty-nine years of age.
In quest of a non-addictive alternative to morphine, he had been experimenting with combining morphine with various acids. He boiled anhydrous morphine alkaloid with acetic anhydride over a stove for several hours and produced a more potent, acetylated form of morphine, now called diamorphine (or diacetylmorphine), also known as heroin.
Heinrich Dreser, a chemist at Bayer Laboratories, continued to test heroin and Bayer marketed it as an analgesic and 'sedative for coughs' in 1888. When its addictive potential was recognized, Bayer ceased its production in 1913.
Wright was versatile, having initially considered and trained for a profession in engineering. This allowed him to make diverse contributions to the chemical field. In addition to his research in organic chemistry, he published numerous works on iron smelting, manganese dioxide, ternary alloys, and chemical dynamics, among others. In 1892, Wright was the first to report the existence of the stoichiometric intermetallic compound AlSb (aluminium antimonide), which is now recognized as a compound semiconductor with potential use in high-frequency, low-power consumption microelectronics applications, as well as gamma radiation detection.
- Wright, C R A, The Threshold of Science: a Variety of Simple and Amusing Experiments, Charles Griffin, London 1891.
- Wright, C R A, Animal and Vegetable Fixed-oils, Fats, Butters and Waxes: Their Preparation and Properties, Charles Griffin, London 1894.
- Wright, C R A, J. Soc. Chem. Ind. 11, 492 (1892).
- [Royal] Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland. (1914), History of the Institute, 1877-1914, London: Inst. of Chem.
- Pubchem. "Diamorphine". pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
- Obituary, C. R. Alder Wright, Vol. 70, p. 60 (1894)., Princeton, NJ USA