Thomas Graham (chemist)

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Thomas Graham
Thomas Graham Litho.JPG
Thomas Graham in 1856
Born (1805-12-21)21 December 1805
Glasgow, Scotland
Died 16 September 1869(1869-09-16) (aged 63)
Nationality Scottish
Fields Chemistry
Institutions Royal College of Science and Technology
University College London
Known for Graham's Law
Notable awards Royal Medal (1838, 1850)
Copley Medal (1862)

Thomas Graham FRS (21 December 1805 – 16 September 1869) was a nineteenth-century Scottish chemist who is best-remembered today for his pioneering work in dialysis and the diffusion of gases.

Life and work[edit]

Graham was born in Glasgow, Scotland. Graham's father was a successful textile manufacturer, and wanted his son to enter into the Church of Scotland. Instead, defying his father's wishes, Graham became a student at the University of Glasgow in 1819. There he developed a strong interest in chemistry, and left the University after receiving his M.A. in 1826. He later became a professor of chemistry at numerous colleges, including the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (appointed 1830 as the Freeland Chair of Chemistry), the Royal College of Science and Technology and the University of London.

Graham also founded the Chemical Society of London in 1841. In 1866, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

His final position was as the Master of the Mint, where he stayed for 15 years until his death. He was the last person to hold that position.

Scientific work[edit]

Thomas Graham is best known for two things:

  1. His studies on the diffusion of gases resulted in "Graham's Law", which states that the rate of effusion of a gas is inversely proportional to the square root of its molar mass.
  2. His discovery of dialysis, which is used in many medical facilities today, was the result of Graham's study of colloids. This work resulted in Graham's ability to separate colloids and crystalloids using a so-called "dialyzer", the precursor of today's dialysis machine. This study initiated the scientific field known as colloid chemistry, of which Graham is credited as the founder.

Honours, activities, and recognition[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Herschel, Bt
Master of the Mint
Office abolished