Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Döbereiner, Johann Wolfgang


Born Dec. 15, 1780, in Hof; died Mar. 24, 1849, in Jena. German chemist. Professor of chemistry, technology, and pharmacology at the University of Jena from 1810.

Between 1821 and 1823, Döbereiner discovered that finely ground platinum evoked a chemical reaction (oxidation of a mixture of the vapors of ethyl alcohol and air, explosion of a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, and other reactions); the platinum itself did not change in the process. In 1832 he demonstrated that in the presence of finely ground platinum, sulfur dioxide is oxidized by oxygen into sulfur anhydride. In 1835, J. Berzelius called all these phenomena catalysis. Döbereiner noted (in 1817 for Ca, Sr, Ba and in 1829 for Li, Na, K; S, Se, Te; and Cl, Br, I) that if three chemically similar elements are placed in the order of their atomic weights, then the atomic weight of the middle element of such a trio is approximately equal to half the sum of the atomic weights of the outer elements. These so-called Döbereiner’s triads were the first attempt to classify elements according to their atomic weight.


“Versuch zu einer Gruppierung der elementaren Stoffe nach ihrer Analogie.” In J. W. Döbereiner and M. Pettenkofer, Die Anfänge des natürlichen Systems der chemischen Elemente. Leipzig, 1895.


Mittasch, A., and E. Theiss. Ot Devi i Debereinera do Dikona: piat’desiat let ν oblasti geterogennogo kataliza. Kharkov, 1934. (Translated from English.)
Giua, M. Istoriia khimii. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from Italian.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.