Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner

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Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner.jpg
Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
Born (1780-12-13)13 December 1780
Hof, Principality of Bayreuth
Died 24 March 1849(1849-03-24) (aged 68)
Jena, Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Nationality German
Known for Döbereiner's triads
Döbereiner's lamp
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry
Institutions University of Jena

Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner (13 December 1780 – 24 March 1849) was a German chemist who is best known for work that foreshadowed the periodic law for the chemical elements and inventing the first lighter, which was known as the Döbereiner's lamp.[1] He became a professor of chemistry and pharmacy at the University of Jena.

Life and work[edit]

As a coachman's son, Döbereiner had little opportunity for formal schooling. So he was apprenticed to an apothecary, reading widely and attending science lectures. He eventually became a professor at the University of Jena in 1810; he also studied chemistry at Strasbourg. In work published in 1829,[2] Döbereiner reported trends in certain properties of selected groups of elements. For example, the average atomic mass of lithium and potassium was close to the atomic mass of sodium. A similar pattern was found with calcium, strontium, and barium, with sulfur, selenium, and tellurium, and also with chlorine, bromine, and iodine. Moreover, the densities for some of these triads followed a similar pattern. These sets of elements became known as "Döbereiner's triads".[3][4]

Döbereiner's lamp

Döbereiner also is known for his discovery of furfural,[5] for his work on the use of platinum as a catalyst, and for a lighter, known as Döbereiner's lamp. By 1828 hundreds of thousands of these lighters had been mass produced by the German manufacturer Gottfried Piegler in Schleiz.[6]

The German writer Goethe was a friend of Döbereiner, attended his lectures weekly, and used his theories of chemical affinities as a basis for his famous 1809 novella Elective Affinities.



  1. ^ "Treasures: Table lighters ignite interest in collectors". 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  2. ^ Döbereiner, Johann Wolfgang (1829). "An Attempt to Group Elementary Substances according to Their Analogies". Annalen der Physik und Chemie. 15: 301&ndash, 307. an attempt which I made twelve years ago to group substances by their analogies.
  3. ^ "Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner". Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  4. ^ "A Historic Overview: Mendeleev and the Periodic Table" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  5. ^ J. W. Döbereiner (1832). "Ueber die medicinische und chemische Anwendung und die vortheilhafte Darstellung der Ameisensäure". Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft. 3 (2): 141–146. doi:10.1002/jlac.18320030206.
  6. ^ Thomas, John Meurig (2017). "The RSC Faraday prize lecture of 1989". Chemical Communications. 53: 9185–9197.

Further reading[edit]