Robert Bunsen

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  • Topic: Caesium, Robert Bunsen, Rubidium
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  • Published : March 27, 2006
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Robert Bunsen was born on March 31, 1811 in Gottingen, Germany. He was the youngest of four sons. Robert started schooling in the city of Holzminden, and then studied chemistry at Gottingen. Bunsen was awarded his doctorate in 1830 for a dissertation on different kinds of hygrometer. He was only 19 at this point in his life. Following being awarded his doctorate, he immediately set off on extensive travels that took him through Germany and Paris and eventually to Vienna from 1830 to 1833. All of his travels allowed Bunsen the opportunity to establish a network of contacts that would stay with him throughout his illustrious career.

Bunsen returned to Germany and became a lecturer at Gottingen. Robert began his experimental studies of the insolubility of metal salts of arsenious acid. Because of this experimenting he discovered the use of iron oxide hydrate as a precipitating agent which is still the best known antidote against arsenic poisoning to this day. Bunsen gained his Habilitation with work on these organometallic compounds in two years.

After many years of study Robert Bunsen invented one of the most well known chemist's tools. He invented the Bunsen burner sometime in 1855 in attempt to find a better lighting and heating source in the laboratory. The idea for the Bunsen burner was simple. He proposed mixing the gas with air before combustion instead of the other way around. The university mechanic, Peter Desaga, designed and built the burner according to Bunsen's specifications. Peter Desaga contributed to the modern design of the two large holes with a rotatable, perforated ring. Others began to produce their own versions of the Bunsen burner and even tried to claim the invention as their own. Bunsen and Desaga were able to have the proper authorities refute these claims.

Soon after the invention of the Bunsen burner, Robert and Kirchhoff invented the Bunsen-Kirchhoff spectroscope. This was a vital instrument of chemical analysis that can trace...
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