box_width = 300px
name = Robert Bunsen
image_width = 200px
birth_date = birth date|1811|3|31|df=y
death_date = death date and age|1899|8|16|1811|3|31|df=y
nationality = German
work_institutions = Polytechnic School of Kassel
University of Marburg University of Heidelberg
University of Göttingen
doctoral_students = nowrap|
Adolf von Baeyer Fritz Haber Philipp Lenard Georg Ludwig Carius Adolph Wilhelm Hermann Kolbe Adolf Lieben Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Viktor Meyer Friedrich Konrad Beilstein Henry Enfield Roscoe John Tyndall Edward Frankland Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev Thomas Edward Thorpe Francis Robert Japp
known_for = Discoveries of
caesiumand rubidium; Bunsen burner, development of spectrochemical analysis
Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen (31 March 1811 – 16 August 1899) was a German
chemist. He worked on emission spectroscopy of heated elements, and with Gustav Kirchhoffhe discovered caesiumand rubidium. Bunsen developed several gas-analytical methods, he was a pioneer in photochemistry, and he did early work in the field of organoarsenicchemistry. With his laboratory assistant, Peter Desaga, he developed the Bunsen burner, an improvement on the laboratory burners then in use. The Bunsen-Kirchhoff Awardfor spectroscopy is named after him and his colleague, Gustav Kirchhoff.
Life and work
Bunsen was born in
Göttingen, Germany. He was the youngest of four sons of the University of Göttingen's chief librarian and professor of modern philology, Christian Bunsen(1770–1837). [cite journal | author = | title = Professor Robert W. Bunsen | journal = The Journal of the American Chemical Society | year = 1900 | volume = 23 | pages = 89 – 107 | url = http://books.google.com/books?id=u9oBAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA89&dq=robert+bunsen+son&as_brr=1 | accessdate = 2007-09-11 ] After attending school in Holzminden, Robert Bunsen studied chemistry. During this time, he met Friedrich Runge (who discovered anilineand in 1819 isolated caffeine), Justus von Liebigin Gießen, and Alexander Mitscherlichin Bonn.
Bunsen became a lecturer at Göttingen and began experimental studies of the (in)solubility of
metal salts of arsenous acid. Today, his discovery of the use of iron oxide hydrateas a precipitating agent is still the best-known antidoteagainst arsenic poisoning.
In 1836, Bunsen succeeded
Friedrich Wöhlerat Kassel. Bunsen taught there for two years, and then accepted a position at the University of Marburg, where he studied cacodylderivatives. Although Bunsen's work brought him quick and wide acclaim, cacodyl, is toxic, has a strong combustion in dry air. Bunsen almost died from arsenic poisoning, and an explosion with cacodyl cost him sight in his right eye. In 1841, Bunsen created the Bunsen cell, using a carbon electrodeinstead of the expensive platinum electrode used in William Robert Grove's Grove cell. In 1850 he taught at Breslau.
In 1852, Bunsen took the position of
Leopold Gmelinat Heidelberg. There he used electrolysisto produce pure metals, such as chromium, magnesium, aluminium, manganese, sodium, barium, calciumand lithium. A ten-year collaboration with Henry Enfield Roscoebegan in 1852, in which they studied the photochemical formation of hydrogen chloridefrom hydrogenand chlorine.
Bunsen discontinued his work with Roscoe in 1859 and joined
Gustav Kirchhoffto study emission spectra of heated elements, a research area called spectrum analysis. For this work, Bunsen and his laboratory assistant, Peter Desaga, had perfected a special gas burner by 1855, influenced by an earlier one of Michael Faraday. The newer design of Bunsen and Desaga is now called simply the " Bunsen burner". [cite journal | last =Jensen | first =William B. | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =The Origin of the Bunsen Burner | journal = Journal of Chemical Education | volume = 82 | issue = 4 | pages = | publisher = | date =2005 | url = http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/HS/Journal/Issues/2005/Apr/clicSubscriber/V82N04/p518.pdf | doi = | id = | accessdate =] [See Michael Faraday's "Chemical Manipulation, Being Instructions to Students in Chemistry" (1827)]
When Bunsen retired at the age of 78, he shifted his work solely to
geologyand mineralogy, an interest which he had pursued throughout his career. He died in Heidelberg, and was buried there.
For further reading
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=0RwWzUysftEC&pg=PA1&dq=Bunsen+Robert&as_brr=1#PPR3,M1 "Gasometry: Comprising the Leading Physical and Chemical Properties of Gases"] by Robert Bunsen (1857) London: Walton and Maberly (translated by Henry Roscoe)
* "Robert Wilhelm Bunsen", G. Lockeman, 1949.
* Sir Henry Roscoe's "Bunsen Memorial Lecture," "Trans. Chem. Soc.", 1900, reprinted (in German) with other obituary notices in an edition of Bunsen's collected works published by Ostwald and Bodenstein in 3 vols. at Leipzig in 1904.
Notes and references
* [http://www.woodrow.org/teachers/ci/1992/Bunsen.html Robert Wilhelm Bunsen]
* [http://www.chemheritage.org/classroom/chemach/periodic/bunsen-kirchhoff.html Bunsen and Kirchhoff]
* [http://www.nndb.com/people/900/000095615/ Robert Wilhelm Bunsen]
NAME= Bunsen, Robert
DATE OF BIRTH= 31 March 1811
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH= 16 August 1899
PLACE OF DEATH=
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