Chemistry and the Elements
Page last modified 30/1/2019
Halogens, Other Non-metals, Metalloids
Alkali metals, Alkali Earth metals
As of 2016, no element beyond number.118 has been synthesised.
12/2015, The synthesis of element 115, Ununpentium, was recognised as having been accomplished by the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR. The element has not yet been officially named.
2010, The synthesis of element 117, Tennessine, was recognised as having been accomplished by the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR.
2006, The The officially-recognised synthesis of element 118, Oganesson, at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR.
2004, The officially-recognised synthesis of element 113, Nihonium, at RIKEN, Japan.
19/7/2000, The The officially-recognised synthesis of element 116, Livermorium, at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR.
12/1998, The The officially-recognised synthesis of element 114, Flerovium, at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR.
1996, The officially-recognised synthesis of element 112, Copernicium, at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, Germany.
1994, The officially-recognised synthesis of element 111, Roentgenium, at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, Germany.
1994, The officially-recognised synthesis of element 110, Darmstadtium, at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, Germany.
7/11/1991, The first report on carbon nanotubes was reported in Nature.
1984, The officially-recognised synthesis of element 108, Hassium at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, Germany.
29/8/1982, The officially-recognised synthesis of element 109, Meitnerium at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, Germany.
1981, The officially-recognised synthesis of element 107, Bohrium, at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, Germany.
11/2/1978, James B Conant, US research chemist, died aged 84.
6/1974, Element 106, now known as Seaborgium, was synthesised at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR.
105th 1969, The synthesis of Rutherfordium was confirmed at the University of Berkeley California.
1968, Dubnium was synthesised at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR.
1966, After several false starts, Nobelium was synthesised at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR.
12/10/1965, Paul Muller, the Swiss chemist who formulated the insecticide DDT in 1939, died in Basle.
14/2/1961, The synthesis of element Lawrencium was confirmed at University of Berkeley California.
26/7/1956, Superglue was launched in New York, USA. It was sold in Britain from 1976.
1955, Mendelevium was synthesised at the University of Berkeley California.
100th 12/1952, Einstinium was first identified by Albert Ghiorso and others at the University of Berkeley California.
1/11/1952, The new element Fermium was first discovered in the fall-out from a nuclear test of a Hydrogen Bomb..
17/3/1950, Californium was announced to have been made at the University of Berkeley California
12/1949, Berkellium was first synthesised at the University of Berkeley California by Glenn Seaborg, Albert Ghiorso, and Stanley Thompson.
1945, Promethium was first synthesised at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US, by Jacob Marinsky, Lawrence Geldenin and Charles Corvell, from the fission by-products of uuranium.
95th 1944, Americium and Curium were first identified at the University of Berkeley California by Glenn Seaborg, Leon Morgan, Ralph James and Albert Ghiorso.
7/4/1943. The drug LSD (lysergic acid di-ethylamide) was first synthesised by Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman.
30/3/1943, Silly Putty was patented in the USA.
1940, The first confirmed discovery of the element Astatine.
14/12/1940, Plutonium was first produced by Dr Glenn Seaborg, Joseph Kennedy, Edwin McMillan and Arthur Wall at the University of California, Berkeley.
1939, Neptunium was produced as a fission product by Edwin McMillan at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, California.
90th 1939, Francium was discovered by Marguerite Peary at the Curie Institute, Paris.
6/4/1938. Teflon was accidentally invented by US lab assistant Jack Rebok. He opened a gas cylinder of freon (tetrafluorothylene) and no gas came out; however the cylinder was still heavy. Upon inspection, the gas had polymerised into a greasy white powder. During World War Two, Teflon, being extremely inert, was found to be the only material that would resist the corrosive effects of uranium hexafluoride, a key chemical in the construction of the atom bomb; hence Teflon became a military secret. In 1960 it began to be used on non-stick pans, although initial problems with the non-stick coating not adhering tp the pan had to be overcome. It now has uses in coating buildings to prevent corrosion, as electrical insulation, a flame retardant, and in artificial body joints.
24/2/1938, Manufacture began of the first commercially produced nylon product, toothbrush bristles, by DuPont in their Arlington, New Jersey, plant.
12/1936,Technetium was confirmed as a new lement at the University of Palermo by Carlo Perrier and Emilio Segre.
20/8/1935, In the US, H McLean announced the isolation of Vitamin E.
1933, ICI chemist R.O.Gibson produced polyethylene, the polymer of ethylene gas. An easily-moulded white inert water-resistant solid insulator, it was marketed as ‘polythene’. It was used for electric cable insulation. In 1938 Tupperware was produced from this plastic.
4/4/1932. Vitamin C was isolated by Charles Glen King, professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh.
1/2/1928. In the USA, Dr Herbert Evans discovered vitamin E.
1925, Rhenium was discovered by Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke and Otto Berg in Germany.
1923, Hafnium was dscovered by Dirk Coster and Georg von Hevesy in Copenhagen, Denmark.
1923, Lanthanum was first isolated in pure form.
10/5/1920, John Wesley Hyatt, American inventor who discovered celluloid, the first synthetic plastic, died.
30/6/1919, Lord Rayleigh, British scientist who discovered the inert gas argon in 1894 and won the Nobel prize, died in Witham, Essex, aged 76.
1916, British chemist G N Lewis developed a valency theory, which was later also stated independently by Kossel.
23/7/1916, Sir William Ramsey, chemist who discovered helium, and isolated neon, krypton, and xenon, died in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1904.
1913, Formica was first produced, initially as a substitute ‘for-mica’. Mica being used for electrical insulation. Formica is made by compressing layers of paper impregnated with phenolic acid. Formica initially was always black or brown, but in the 1920s coloured versions became available, and were used for ‘modern’ furniture coveriings. It was easy to clean and water-resistant.
20/8/1913. Harry Brearley of Sheffield cast the first stainless steel.
1912, In the USA, the Corning Glass Company discovered that adding 10-15% boron oxide to glass gave it a much lower coefieient of thermal expansion, making it heat resistant. This Pyrex glass was useful for cooko9ng utensils and chemical lab glassware.
17/6/1912. Discovery of the production of synthetic rubber on a commercial scale.
12/5/1910, Dorothy Hodgkin, British chemist, was born (died 1994).
2/4/1910. Karl Hoffman, German scientist, made artificial rubber from butadiene.
1909, Sorensen proposed the pH Scale, as the negative logarithm of the concentration of Hydrogen ions, as a measure oof acidity.
1909, Bakelite was invented by Leo Baekeland.
2/7/1909, Fritz Haber succeeded in sustaining his ammonia production process for 5 hours, proving that it could produce commercial quantities of ammonia.
1908, Fritz Haber invented a process for the manufacture of ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen, important for fertiliser.
1908, Cellophane was first produced when Swiss chemist Dr Jacques Brandenburger used regenerated celluloise to make a thin plastic sheet. Cellophane was first made commercially in Paris from 1912.
29/2/1908, Onnes, a Dutch scientist in Leyden, announced he had liquefied helium.
85th 1907, Lutetium was discovered independently by the French chemist Georges Urbain, the US chemist Charles James and the Asutrian mineralogist Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach.
1905, Tantalum was first isolated in pure form by Werner von Bolton. In 1902 an impure sample had been prepared by Moissan.
10/7/1902, Kurt Alder, German chemist, was born.
1900, Protactinium was isolated by William Crookes.
1900, Radon was discovered by Freidrich Ernst Dom.
1900, The idea for cellophane was born when Swiss textile engineer Jacques Brandenberger was sat in a restaurant and someone spilled wine on a tablecloth. Brandenberger decided to develop a clear flexible film that could be sprayed onto fabric to make it waterproof. His first attempt, a mix of cellulose and glycerol, simply peeled off the fabric in large clear sheets; by 1912 Brandenberger had found a use for his product as the eyepieces in gas masks. He called the transparent sheets ‘cellophane’. DuPont bought the rights to the product in 1923, and by 1926 had developed a waterproof version that could be used to wrap and preserve food.
1899, Actinium was discovered by the French chemist Andre-Louis Debierne.
12/1/1899, Paul Muller, the Swiss chemist who formulated DDT, was born.
80th 1898, Polonium was discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898, after samples of radium proved more radioactive than expected. They named the metal after their native Poland to highlight the lack of independence of that nation.
1898,The new element radium was first identified, as radium chloride, by Marie and Pierre Curie. Pure radium was first prepared by Marie Curie and Andre Louis Debierne in 1911.
1898, Xenon was discovered by William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They also discovered Neon and Krypton the same year.
15/3/1898, Sir Henry Bessemer, inventor of a process for converting cast iron into steel in 1856, died aged 85.
10/12/1896. Alfred Bernhardt Nobel, Swedish chemist who invented dynamite, died in San Remo, Italy. See 14/7/1867.
75th 1895, Helium was discovered by two Swedish chemists, Per Teodor Cleve and Nils Abraham Langlet. It was isolated from radioactive minerals.
1894, Argon was first discovered by British chemists Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsey. It was the first Noble Gas found. Atmospheric Nitrogen was found to be lightly denser, by 0.47%, than Nitrogen obtained from chemical reactions; this margin was beyond experimental error. Therefore atmospheric Nitrogen had to contain some other gas. Removing Oxygen from the air (by passing over hot metallic Copper)and then also remiving the Nitrogen (by passing over hot Magnesium) left an inert gas, which was termed ‘Argon’ meaning un-reactive. Subsequently, 120 tons of air was liquefied and from the Argoin so obtained, the other inert gases Krypton, Xenon and Neon were discovered.
15/4/1894, The Swiss chemist Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac died (born 24/4/1817). He researched on atomic weights and isotopes, and explored the chemistry of the rare earths.
1890, Europium was discovered by French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbradan.
2/1/1889, Roger Adams, US chemist, was born.
1886, Germanium was discovered by Dr Winkler.
1886, Elemental fluorine was first isolated by Henri Moissan.
70th 1886, French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbradan isolated the new elements dysprosium and gadolinium.
1885, Praseodymium and Neodymium were isolated by the Austrian chemist Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach.
1882, Elemental caesium metal was isolated by German chemist Carl Setterberg.
65th 1879, Samarium was discovered by the French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbradan.
1879, Scandium was discovered.
1879, Thulium was discovered by the Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve.
1879, Saccharine was discovered by Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg. It was found to be 300x sweeter than sugar.
1878. Holmuim was discovered by Marc Delafontaine and Jacques Louis Soret.
1878, Ytterbium was discovered by the Swiss chemist Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac.
22/12/1877. Liquid oxygen was made for the first time, in Geneva.
60th 1875, Gallium was discovered, by Mr Lecoq de Boisbaudran.
1869, Dmitri Mendeleev, Russian scientist (1834-1907), published the Periodic Table. By grouping the elements by properties, it was now possible to see where gaps existed and new elements awaited discovery.
1869, Celluloid was invented by John H Wyatt.
14/7/1868, Dynamite was first tested in Sweden; it was invented by Alfred Nobel.
1867, Vanadium was first isolated by Roscoe.
7/11/1867. Marie Curie, who discovered radium, was born in Warsaw, as Marie Sklodowska.
1866, The formula of ozone was proved by Soret to be 03
24/10/1865, Nobel was granted a patent in the USA for his new invention of dynamite.
1864, Indium was first isolated in pure form by the German chemist Hieronymous Theodor Richter.
1864, Niobium was first isolated by De Marignac.
19/12/1863. Frederick Walton of London patented linoleum.
14/11/1863. Leo Baekeland, US chemist who invented Bakelite, an early plastic, was born in Ghent, Belgium.
1862, Acetylene, C2H2, was discovered by Berthelot. From the 1880s, it was much used for generating light.
1861, Thallium was discovered by Mr Crookes.
55th 1861, Rubidium was discovered by German chemists Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff.
17/10/1855, Henry Bessemer patented a steel-making process.
2/10/1852, Lord Ramsay, who discovered the inert gases, was born in Glasgow.
1844, Ruthenium was officially discovered by Karl Ernst Klaus, at Kazan University.
1843, Swedish chemist Carl Gustaf Mosander discovered erbium and terbium in 1843.
24/7/1843, Sir William Abney, English chemist, was born in Derby (died in Folkestone 3/12/1920).
1841, Uranium was first isolated in pure form by Frenchy chemist Professsor Eugene Melchior Peligot.
1839, Ozone was discovered and named by German-Swiss chemist Christian F Schonbein (1799-1868)
28/11/1837, John Wesley Hyatt, inventor of celluloid, was born in Starkey, New York State.
1836, Edmund Davy discovered acetylene, C2H2, a gas that burns at a very high temperature and can also be used to make artificial rubber.
17/5/1836, Norman Lockyer, discoverer of helium, was born.
21/10/1833, Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist who invented dynamite in 1867, was born in Stockholm.
50th 1829, Thorium was discovered by Berzelius.
1828, Yttrium was first isolated by Friedrich Wohler.
1828, Beryllium was isolated independently by Freidrich Wohler and by Antoine Bussy.
1827, Aluminium was first isolated by Friedrich Wohler. Before the process of electrolytically isolating the metal was discovered in 1886, aluminium was so expensive it was used for jewellery, despite being the third commonest element in the Earth’s crust.
17/7/1827, Sir Frederick Augustus, English chemist, was born.
1826, Urea was first artificially synthesised by Wohler.
1825, Bromine was discovered by Carl Jacob Lowig in 1825. Berzelius coined the name halogens to describe the elements Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine and Iodine.
45th 1824, Zirconium was first isolated by Berzelius.
1817, Silicon was first formally identified as a new element by the Scottish chemist Thomas Thomson. In 1811 some impure silicon was first isolated by Gay-Lussac and Thenard, but not actually identified as such.
1817, Lithium was recognised as a new element by Johan August Arfwedson.
1817, Cadmium, as an element, was discovered in Germany simultaneously by Freidrich Stromeyer and by Karl Samuel Leberecht Hermann.
1817, Selenium was discovered by Swedish chemists Jons Jakob Berzelius and Johan Gottlieb Gahn.
29/12/1813, Alexander Parkes, the chemist who invented celluloid, was born in Birmingham.
40th 1811, Iodine was discovered by French chemist Bernard Courtois in 1811.
31/3/1811, Robert Bunsen, German chemist, was born in Gottingen, Lower Saxony.
24/2/1810, Henry Cavendish, English scientist who discovered the properties of hydrogen and other gases, died.
1808, Gay-Lussac formulated the Law of Volumes, of reacting gases.
1808, Calcium was first isolated in pure form by Sir Humphrey Davy.
1808, Boron was first isolated and recognised as an element by Sir Humphrey Davy.
1808, Barium was first isolated as a new elememnt by Sir Humphrey Davy.
1808, Strontium was isolated by Sir Humphrey Davy
35th 1808, Magnesium metal was first isolated by Sir Humphrey Davy.
19/10/1807, Elemental sodium metal was first isolated by Sir Humphrey Davy.
6/10/1807, Sir Humphrey Davy discovered a new metal which he called potassium.
6/2/1804, Joseph Priestley, English clergyman and chemist who discovered oxygen, died in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.
1803, Cerium was discovered independently by both Martin Heinrich Klaproth of Germany and by Wilhelm Hisinger and Jins Jakob Berzelius of Sweden.
1803, Rhodium ws discovered by William Hyde Wollaston.
30th 1803, Osmium and iridium were discovered by Smithson Tennant and William Hyde Wollaston, in London, UK.
1802, Charles Law was formulated – with constant pressure, the volume of a gas is proportional to its temperature, or V = T.k.
1802, Palladium was discovered by William Hyde Wollaston.
1801, Daltons Law of Partial Pressures was formulated – the total pressure of a mixture of gases is equal to the sum of the partial pressures of all the constituent gases.
1799, Laws of Chemical Affinity announced by Bertholet.
1798, Chromium metal was isolated by Louis Nicolas Vauquelin.
1796, Carbon disulphide, CS2, was first prepared by W A Lampadius, by heating a mixture of charcoal and pyrites.
1794, Ethylene was prepared by a group of Dutch chemists.
8/5/1794. The chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who discovered the composition of water, was executed in Paris.
1791, Titanium was discovered in Cornwall by the clergyman and amateur geologist William Gregor.
25th 1789, Antoine Lavoisier listed carbon as an element in his 1789 textbook. Carbon in the form of diamond was known in China as early as 2,500 BC. Carbon as soot or charcoal has been known to mankind since prehistoric times.
24th 1789, Tellurium was isolated by a Hungarian scientist, Pal Kitaibel. However he gave the credit to Franz Joseph Muller von Reichtenstein, Austrian Inspector of Mines, who had worked for several years on some anomalous ore before determining the densityand other properties of the new element in 1785.
23rd 1783, Tungsten was first islotaed in pure form by the brothers Jose and Fausto Elhuyar.
25/6/1783, Lavoisier announced that water was the combustion product of oxygen and hydrogen.
1782, Prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide, HCN) prepared by Scheele.
22nd 1781, Molybednum was first isolated by Peter Jacob Hjelm.
21st 1777, Antoine Lavoisier found that sulphur is an element. Sulphur has been known since prehistoric times, being easily available as surface deposits in volcanic areas.
1776, ‘Inflammable air’, or carbon monoxide, was prepared by Lassone.
20th 1774,Manganese was first isolated by Johan Gottleib Gahn.
19th 1774, Chlorine was first recognised as an element by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm. He called it ‘dephlogisticated marine acid air’. In 1630 chlorine had been studied by the Flemish chemist Jan Baptist van Helmont but he did not recognise it as a new element.
18th 1/8/1774, British chemist Sir Joseph Priestly announced he had discovered oxygen.
17th 1772, The Scottish physicist Daniel Rutherford is credited with the discovery of nitrogen in 1772; he called it ‘noxious air’, although he did not at the time recognise ut as a separate element.
1/11/1772, The French chemist Lavoisier announced that sulphur and phosphorus, when burned, gained weight because they had ‘absorbed air’; similarly metallic lead prepared from litharge lost weight because it had ‘lost air’. The nature of this ‘air’ was found to be oxygen in 1774 by Joseph Priestley.
16th 1766, Henry Cavendish first recognised hydrogen as a separate substance, calling it ‘inflammable air’. He went on to discover that the ‘inflammable air’ produced water when burnt. Hydrogen was goven its name by Antoine Lavoisier, meaning ‘producer of water’, when he replicated Cavendish’s experiment og producing water by burning hydrogen.
6/9/1766, John Dalton, English chemist was born in Eaglesfield, near Cockermouth, Cumbria, the son of a Quaker weaver.
1755, ‘Fixed air’ or carbon dioxide, was prepared from chalk by Joseph Black (1728-1799).
1754, Alkalis, metals, earths and bases were defined by Rouelle.
15th 1748, Platinum was recognised as an element by Charles Wood of the UK and Antonio de Ulloa of Spain. Hiowever for several centuries before that platinum had been recognised as a sometimes unwelcome adulterant of gold.
26/8/1743, Antoine Lavoisier, French founder of modern chemistry, was born in Paris.
14th 1735, Cobalt, whose compounds have been used to colour glass blue for over 4,000 years (and feared by miners because it was always associated with arsenic, whose oxide was poisonous), was proved to be a separate element by Swedish chemist Georg Brandt.
13/3/1733, Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxygen in 1774, was born in Leeds, the son of a cloth merchant.
10/10/1731, Henry Cavendish, who discovered hydrogen, was born in Nice, France.
1704, Newton showed that diamonds will burn in air.
1702, Stahl burned sulphur in air to produce ‘volatile sulphurous acid’, or sulphur dioxide.
1680, Boyle defined the term ‘salt’ in chemistry.
1680, Irish scientist Robert Boyle discovered that phosphorus and sulphur burst into flames if rubbed together. This was the basis for the first matches, invented 150 years later.
1670, The ‘Phlogiston’ theory of combustion was developed by Becher and Stahl.
1669, Phosphorus (the 13th element to be recognised as such) was discovered by the German alchemist Hennig Brand.
1662, Boyle’s Law was formulated – with constant temperature, the volume of a gas varies inversely with the pressure on it, or V = 1/P.k.
1661, Boyle concieved of the modern idea of a ‘chemical element’.
1649, ‘Muriatic Acid’, or ‘spirit of salt’, hydrochloric acid, first prepared by Glauber.
12th 1546, Bismuth was mentioned by Agricola in De Natura Fossilium; however the metal has been knwn since well before 0 AD, albeit sometimes confused with tin and lead.
11th 1540, A procedure for isolating antimony was written down in the book De la Pirotechnica, by Vannoccio Biringuccio. However antimony and its compounds have been used by mankind since before 3,000 BC.
10th 1374, Zinc, in use in brass items since as early as 1400 BC, was first named specifically in the Jasada, a medical dictionary ascribed to the Hindu King Madanapala.
9th 1250, Arsenic, in use since at least 1,000 BC, was first isolated in pure form by Albertus Magnus.
1200, Geher described ‘oil of vitriol’, or sulphuric acid, and ‘aqua fortis’, or nitric acid.
8th 600 BC, Pure tin began to be used. Tin as an alloy with copper, bronze, has been in use from 3,000 BC.
6th 7th 1,500 BC, Mercury artefacts found in Egyptian tombs dating from this time. Meanwhile nickel (white copper) was known in China from about this time. Mediaeval German miners encountered ore that looked like copper ore but gave no copper, and named it after a mischievous sprite, ‘nickel’, analogous to the name ‘old Nick’ for the Devil.
5th 3,500 BC Iron artefacts found originating from this time.
3rd, 4th 4,000 BC, Gold artefacts found dating from this time. Silver useage also dated back to this time.
2nd 7,000 BC Lead began to be used widely across the world. Lead and tin, both malleable and both reasonably abundant and easily mined, were used together and sometimes interchangeably.
1st 9,000 BC, Copper in use by mankind.