Laurent, Auguste(ōgüst` lōräN`), 1808–53, French organic chemist. He devised a systematic nomenclature for organic chemistry. His studies on naphthalene and its chlorination products led him to propose a nucleus theory that foreshadowed modern structural chemistry; he proposed that the structural grouping of atoms within molecules determined how the molecules combined in organic reactions. This theory conflicted with the then current notion that the product of organic reactions depended solely on the electrical charge of the atoms involved. His theory greatly influenced the theory of types proposed by J. B. Dumas and C. F. Gerhardt.
Born Nov. 14, 1807, in La Folie; died Apr. 15, 1853, in Paris. French organic chemist; corresponding member of the French Academy of Sciences (Paris, 1845).
Laurent graduated in 1829 from the School of Mines in Paris. He held a professorship at the University of Bordeaux from 1838 to 1846. Laurent obtained the chloro, nitro, and sulfo derivatives of naphthalene (1832-40), isolated a number of substances from coal tar, discovered phthalic acid (1836), and obtained isatin through the oxidation of indigo (1841). He supported the substitution theory proposed by J. B. A. Dumas, confirmed it experimentally, and developed it further. In 1836, Laurent began working on the formulation of a nuclear theory, according to which organic compounds were products of hydrogen substitution in hydrocarbons (“base nuclei”). This theory made possible a relatively successful classification of organic compounds. Beginning in 1846, Laurent did research designed to differentiate clearly between the concepts of atom and molecule.
REFERENCESButlerov, A. M. Soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1958. Pages 169-280.
Bykov, G. V. Istoriia klassicheskoi teorii khimicheskogo stroeniia. Moscow, 1960.
Giua, M. Istoriia khimii. Moscow, 1966. Pages 233-35, 237-40. (Translated from Italian.)