Wilhelm Schlenk

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Wilhelm Schlenk
W. Schlenk ca1905.jpg
Wilhelm Johann Schlenk
Wilhelm Johann Schlenk

(1879-03-22)22 March 1879
Died29 April 1943(1943-04-29) (aged 64)
Alma materUniversity of Munich
Known forSchlenk flask
Schlenk line
AwardsLieben Prize (1917)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Munich,
University of Jena,
University of Vienna,
University of Berlin,
University of Tübingen
Doctoral advisorOskar Piloty
Doctoral studentsHerman Mark
Fritz Feigl
Ernst David Bergmann

Wilhelm Johann Schlenk (22 March 1879 – 29 April 1943) was a German chemist. He was born in Munich and also studied chemistry there. Schlenk succeeded Emil Fischer at the University of Berlin in 1919.

Schlenk was an organic chemist who discovered organolithium compounds around 1917. He also investigated free radicals and carbanions and discovered (together with his son) that organomagnesium halides are capable of participating in a complex chemical equilibrium, now known as a Schlenk equilibrium.[1]

Today Schlenk is remembered mostly for developing techniques to handle air-sensitive compounds and for his invention of the Schlenk flask. The latter is a reaction vessel with a glass or Teflon tap for the addition and removal of gases, such as nitrogen or argon. He is also known for the Schlenk line, a double manifold incorporating a vacuum system and a gas line joined by double oblique taps that allow the user to switch between vacuum and gas for the manipulation of air-sensitive compounds.


  1. ^ W. Schlenk; W. Schlenk, Jr. (1929). "Über die Konstitution der Grignardschen Magnesiumverbindungen". Chem. Ber. 62 (4): 920. doi:10.1002/cber.19290620422.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Picture of Schlenk
  • The Arfvedson-Schlenk Award (in German)
  • [1] English Translation of Schlenk's 1929 German article on Grignard reagents. English title: 'On the constitution of the Grignard reagent'; German title "Über die Konstitution der Grignardschen Magnesiumverbindungen".