William Augustus Tilden

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Tilden, William Augustus


Born Aug. 15, 1842, in London; died there Dec. 11, 1926. British chemist. Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1880).

Tilden became a professor of chemistry at a college in Birmingham in 1880 and was a professor at the Royal College of Science in London from 1894 to 1909. He conducted research on terpene hydrocarbons and in 1884 became the first to demonstrate that isoprene can be obtained not only from the dry distillation of natural rubber but also from the thermal decomposition of turpentine. He proposed a formula (C5H8) and established a structure for isoprene, and subsequent work by V. N. Ipat’ev and other scientists confirmed his findings. Tilden expressed the opinion that the tendency of isoprene to polymerize to form a rubber-like substance could be used to produce synthetic rubber.

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Sir William A. Tilden (1842-1926) (English), a pioneer in the study of the chemistry of the terpenes and a key figure in the history of synthetic polyisoprene (an acrylic polyterpene), he for the first time prepared isoprene from sources (monocyclic terpenes) other than rubber and showed it to be convertible, by the application of suitable reagents or, spontaneously, on storage, to a vulcanizable rubberlike solid.