Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner

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Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
Born(1780-12-13)13 December 1780
Died24 March 1849(1849-03-24) (aged 68)
Known forDöbereiner's triads
Döbereiner's lamp
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Jena

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

Life and work[edit]

As a coachman's son, Döbereiner had little opportunity for formal schooling. Thus, he was apprenticed to an apothecary, and began to read widely and to attend science lectures. He eventually became a professor for the University of Jena in 1810 and also studied chemistry at Strasbourg. In work published during 1829,[2] Döbereiner reported trends in certain properties of selected groups of elements. For example, the average of the atomic masses 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, tellurium; and with chlorine, bromine, and iodine. Moreover, the densities for some of these triads had a similar pattern. These sets of elements became known as "Döbereiner's triads".[3][4]

Döbereiner's lamp

Döbereiner is also known for his discovery of furfural,[5] for his work concerning the use of platinum as a catalyst, and for the invention of a lighter, known as Döbereiner's lamp.[6] By 1828 hundreds of thousands of these lighters had been mass produced by the German manufacturer Gottfried Piegler in Schleiz.[7]

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". Irish Independent News. 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  2. ^ Döbereiner, Johann Wolfgang (1829). "Versuch zu Gruppirung der elementaren Stoffe nach ihrer Analogie" [An attempt to group elementary substances according to their analogies]. Annalen der Physik und Chemie (in German). 15 (2): 301–307. Bibcode:1829AnP....91..301D. doi:10.1002/andp.18290910217.
    • English translation: Leicester, Henry M.; Klickstein, Herbert S., eds. (1952). A Source Book in Chemistry, 1400-1900. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 268–272. From p. 269: " … an attempt which I made twelve years ago to group substances by their analogies."
  3. ^ "Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner". Chemed Chemistry. Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  4. ^ "A Historic Overview: Mendeleev and the Periodic Table" (PDF). Genesis Mission. NASA. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  5. ^ J. W. Döbereiner (1832). "Ueber die medicinische und chemische Anwendung und die vortheilhafte Darstellung der Ameisensäure" [On the medical and chemical application and the profitable preparation of formic acid]. Annalen der Pharmacie. 3 (2): 141–146. doi:10.1002/jlac.18320030206. From p. 141: "Ich verbinde mit diese Bitte noch die Bemerkung, … Bittermandelöl riechende Materie enthält, … " (I join to this request also the observation that the formic acid which is formed by the simultaneous reaction of sulfuric acid and manganese peroxide with sugar and which contains a volatile material that appears oily in an isolated condition and that smells like a mixture of cassia and bitter almond oil … )
  6. ^ See:
  7. ^ Thomas, John Meurig (2017). "The RSC Faraday prize lecture of 1989". Chemical Communications. 53 (66): 9185–9197. doi:10.1039/C7CC90240A. PMID 28782762.

Further reading[edit]