Chemistry and the Elements

Page last modified 10/6/2019


Home Page


See also Science, Technology and Innovation

See also Astronomy and Space Travel

See also Atomic power and electricity

See also Medical

See also maritime innovations


Elements, discovery of  -see Appendix 1 (this focuses on the date the pure element was first isolated)


7/11/1991, The first report on carbon nanotubes was reported in Nature.

11/2/1978, James B Conant,  US research chemist, died aged 84.

12/10/1965, Paul Muller, the Swiss chemist who formulated the insecticide DDT in 1939, died in Basle.

25/4/1963, Kevlar, a very strong substance termed liquid crystalline polymers, that can make bullet-proof vests, was patented by Du Pont, USA.

26/7/1956, Superglue was launched in New York, USA. It was sold in Britain from 1976.

1955, Artificial diamonds were first made.

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.

1/7/1939, Teflon was patented by Roy Plunkett, USA.

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.

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.

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.

29/3/1915,. Stainless Steel was patented by Harry Brearley (1871-1948), of Sheffield, UK. Such steel must contain at least 132% chromium, and also be less than 1% carbon.Nickel is also added to improve the steel.

20/8/1913. Harry Brearley of Sheffield cast the first stainless steel.

1/2/1913, Formica was patented, 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 coverings. It was easy to clean and water-resistant.

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.

10/7/1902, Kurt Alder, German chemist, was born.

10/12/1901. Nobel prize first awarded. Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel had invented a powerful new explosive, called dynamite. He thought that, if two armies could annihilate each other in an instant, war would become impractical, an idea similar to the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) concept that kept the peace during the Cold War of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Nobel made a fortune from his new explosive and when he died in 1896 he left most of that fortune to a Foundation to award prizes annually to those who in the preceding year have most benefitted mankind. The first Nobel Prize was worth US$ 30,000. They are awarded in Stockholm and Oslo, in the categories of literature, chemistry, physics, medicine and peace. The first ever Nobel Prize was shared between Jean Henri Dunant (founder of the Red Cross) and Frederic Passy (founder of the French Society for the Friends of Peace).

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.

12/1/1899, Paul Muller, the Swiss chemist who formulated DDT, was born.

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.

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.

2/1/1889, Roger Adams, US chemist, was born.

1879, Saccharine  was discovered by Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg. It was found to be 300x sweeter than sugar.

22/12/1877. Liquid oxygen was made for the first time, in Geneva.

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.

15/6/1869, A thermoplastic called celluloid, a technically-improved version of the plastic invented by the British chemist Alexander Parkes, was patented by American inventor John Wesley Hyatt of Albany, New York.

14/7/1868, Dynamite was first tested in Sweden; it was invented by Alfred Nobel.

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.

1863, The explosive Trinitrotoluene, TNT, was first synthesised by the German chemist J Wilbrand. Semtex is a modern version of TNT.

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.

17/10/1855, Henry Bessemer patented a steel-making process.

2/10/1852, Lord Ramsay, who discovered the inert gases, was born in Glasgow.

1845, The explosive Nitrocellulose was invented; in 1847 Nitroglycerine was invented. They are both explosive but too unstable for normal use.

24/7/1843, Sir William Abney, English chemist, was born in Derby (died in Folkestone 3/12/1920).

1839, Ozone, O3, was discovered and named by German-Swiss chemist Christian F Schonbein (1799-1868)

1838, French chemist Frederic Kuhmann succeeded in preparing nitric acid HNO3 by the catalytic oxidation of ammonia

gas NH3, using platinum as a catalyst. However when the German chemist Carl Bosch (1874-1940) discovered a replacement catalyst made of iron, bismuth and manganese, then nitric acid production could be done on an industrial scale. This facilitated the large scale production of nitrates for fertiliser, replacing nitrates imported from Chile.

12/3/1838, Sir Henry Perkin, British chemist who synthesised the first artificial dye (aniline purple) was born.

28/11/1837, John Wesley Hyatt, inventor of celluloid, was born in Starkey, New York State.

25/8/1837. Henry William Crawford of London patented a process for galvanising iron.

1836, Edmund Davy discovered acetylene, C2H2, a gas that burns at a very high temperature and can also be used to make artificial rubber.

1835, Jean Baptiste Andre Dumas and Euhgene Melchior Peligot prepared methyl alcohol, CH3OH.

13/2/1834, German chemist Heinrich Caro was born in Posen (now Poland). In 1834, after learning about the synthesis of dyes from William Perkin in England, he returned to Germany to start the development of the German dye industry.

17/5/1836, Norman Lockyer, discoverer of helium, was born.

1833, German chemist Karl Reichenbach discovered creosote.

21/10/1833, Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist who invented dynamite in 1867, was born in Stockholm.

1832, Eilhardt Mitscherlich prepared nitrobenzene in the laboratory.

1831, Robiquet and Colin discovered the red dye alizarin.

17/7/1827, Sir Frederick Augustus, English chemist, was born.

1826, Urea, also known as carbamide, CO(NH2)2, was first artificially synthesised by Wohler.

15/3/1821, Austrian chemist Johann Joseph Loschmidt was born in Putschirn, Bohemia. He was the first to use the convention of single lines for single chemical bonds, double lines for double bonds.

1819, John Kidd, born London, 10/9/1775, derived naphthalene, C10H8, from coal tar.

1818, Louis Jacques Thenard, born in La Louptiere, France, 4/5/1777, discovered hydrogen peroxide, H2O2.

1816, Andrew Ure, born Scotland 18/5/1778 ,invented the alkalimeter.

21/5/1815, William Nicholson, chemist, died in London, England.

29/12/1813, Alexander Parkes, the chemist who invented celluloid, was born in Birmingham.

1811, German-Russian chemist Gottlieb Sigismund Constantin Kirchhoff, born Teterow (Germany) 19/2/17564, prepared glucose by heating starch with sulphuric acid.

1811, Jons Jakob Berzelius developed the modern system of chemical notations.

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.

1807, Jons Jakob Berzelius first classified chemicals as either organic or inorganic.

1807, Jean Antoine Claude Chaptal, born Nogaret, France, 4/6/1756, published the first book on industrial chemistry.

13/10/1806, Otto Unverdorben was born. In 1826 he discovered the dye aniline by distilling indigo.

6/2/1804, Joseph Priestley, English clergyman and chemist who discovered oxygen, died in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

1802, Charles Law was formulated – with constant pressure, the volume of a gas is proportional to its temperature, or V = T.k.

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.

9/4/1800, Humphrey Davy (born 17/12/1778 in Penzance, England) discovered nitrous oxide, N2O, also known as laughing gas.

1799, Antoine Francois isolated urea, CO(NH2)2.

1799, Laws of Chemical Affinity announced by Bertholet.

1796, Carbon disulphide, CS2, was first prepared by W A Lampadius, by heating a mixture of charcoal and pyrites.

1794, Ethylene, C2H4,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.

1793, The first chemical society was established, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1787, Bertholet discovered the composition of ammonia NH3, hydrogen sulphide H2S and prussic acid HCN.

1784, Scheele discovered citric acid, C6H8O7.

1783, Scheele discovered glycerine, C3H8O3.

1783, Nicholas Leblanc (born Issoudun, France, 6/12/1742) won a prize offered by the French Government for finding a practical way to make sodium hydroxide NaOH and sodium carbonate Na2CO3 from common salt. Due to the French revolution the prize money was never paid, but the Leblanc Process did make possible the large scale production of soap.

25/6/1783, Lavoisier announced that water, H2O was the combustion product of oxygen and hydrogen.

1782, Lavoisier observed that total weight does not change in chemical reactions, establishing the first version of the Law of Conservation of Matter.

1782, Prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide, HCN) prepared by Scheele.

1781, Scheele discovered calcium tungstate, CaWO4; the mineral is now named Scheelite after him. However he did not recognise tungsten as a new element.

1780, Scheele discovered lactic acid, CHCHCOH.

13/12/1780, Johann Wolfgang was born in Hof, Bavaria. He discovered the catalytic properties of platinum, speeding up the reactions of organic gases. He also noticed similarities between elements, suggesting a Periodic Table.

1778, Alessandro Volta, studying inflammable air from marshes, discovered methane, CH4.

1776, Scheele and Bergman independently discovered uric acid, C5H4N4O3.

1776, ‘Inflammable air’, or carbon monoxide, CO, was prepared by Lassone.

1774, Karl Wilhelm Scheele discovered formic acid, HCOOH

1772, Joseph Priestley discovered a method of producing sulphur dioxide, SO2.

1772, Joseph Priestley discovered nitric oxide, NO, subsequently reducing it to nitrous oxide, N2O. He also, this year, succeeded in isolating ammonia NH3 by collecting it over mercury; previously ammonia had only known in aqueous solution.

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.

1770, Karl Wilhelm Scheele discovered tartaric acid, HO2CCH(OH)CH(OH)CO2H.

6/9/1766, John Dalton, English chemist was born in Eaglesfield, near Cockermouth, Cumbria, the son of a Quaker weaver.

1765, German chemist Karl Wilhelm Scheele (born Stralsund 19/12/1742) discovered prussic acid,or hydroge cyanide, HCN.

21/11/1761, English chemical manufacturer Joshua Ward died.

1755, ‘Fixed air’ or carbon dioxide, CO2, was prepared from chalk by Joseph Black (born 15/4/1728 in Bordeuax, France, died 1799).

15/6/1755, Antoine Francois was born in Paris. In 1799 he isolated urea.

1754, Alkalis, metals, earths and bases were defined by Rouelle.

1746, The lead chamber process for making sulphuric acid, H2SO4,was invented by John Roebuck of Sheffield, UK.

26/8/1743, Antoine Lavoisier, French founder of modern chemistry, was born in Paris.

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, Wilhelm Homberg discovered boric acid, B(OH)3.

1702, Stahl burned sulphur in air to produce ‘volatile sulphurous acid’, or sulphur dioxide, SO2.

1695, Nehemiah Grew isolated magnesium sulphate MgSO4.H2O, known as Epsom Salts, from spring water.

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.

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’.

1602, Vincenzio Casarido discovered barium sulphide, BaS.

1597, The work Alchemia by Andreas Libavius described the preparation of hydrochloric acid, HCl, tin tetrachloride SnCl4, and ammonium sulphate (NH4)2SO4.

1317, Pope John XXII banned the practice of alchemy.

1315, Raymond Lully, who discovered ammonia (NH3), was stoned to death in Bougie, North Africa, for preaching against Islam.

1270, The False Geber (writing under the name of Geber, an alchemist of 5 centuries earlier), described ‘oil of vitriol’, or sulphuric acid, H2SO4

The pursuit of Alchemy, a rich man’s hobby in the Middle Ages, was based upon the theory that there were four ‘elements’; earth, air, fire and water, and that the perfect combination of these four would produce gold. Alchemists therefore sought to add or drive off various ‘elements’ to achieve this ‘perfect balance’, by boiling, grinding liquefying, dissolving, heating , burning  and vapourising various substances. In doing so they acquired valuable practical experience that laid the foundations of modern chemistry. For example the major acids, such as nitric, sulphuric and hydrochloric, also solvents such as alcohol, were discovered and used by alchemists to break down compounds.

Alchemists also sought the ‘Philospher’s Stone’ – a substance that could transmute all other materials into gold.

In China, alchemists sought the Elixir of Life, and used substances sich as mercury to preserve the dead; hoping that such preservation from decay of cospses might also lead to how to preserve the living from death. In India, alchemy was linked to seeking cures for diseases, and astrology had a strong influence because the planets were believed to govern health, as well as have an effect on chemical reactions.

755, Arab alchemist Abu Musa Jabir ibn Haryan, also known as Geber, born Iraq ca. 721, described how to prepare aluminium chloride, AlCl3, white lead (basic lead carbonate, 2PbCO. 3· Pb(OH)2) , nitric acid, HNO3, and acetic acid, CH3COOH.  


Appendix 1 – Discovery of the elements (first isolated in pure form)


Noble Gases

Halogens, Other Non-metals, Metalloids

Alkali metals, Alkali Earth metals

As of 2019, 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.

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.

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.

14/2/1961, The synthesis of element Lawrencium was confirmed at University of Berkeley California.

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.

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.

12/1936,Technetium was confirmed as a new lement at the University of Palermo by Carlo Perrier and Emilio Segre.

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.

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.

1900, Protactinium was isolated by William Crookes.

1900, Radon was discovered by the German, Freidrich Ernst Dom.

1899, Actinium was discovered by the French chemist Andre-Louis Debierne.

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.

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.

1890, Europium was discovered by French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbradan.

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.

1878. Holmuim was discovered by Marc Delafontaine and Jacques Louis Soret.

1878, Ytterbium was discovered by the Swiss chemist Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac.

60th 1875, Gallium was discovered, by Mr Lecoq de Boisbaudran.

1867, Vanadium was first isolated by Roscoe.

1864, Indium was first isolated in pure form by the German chemist Hieronymous Theodor Richter.

1864, Niobium was first isolated by De Marignac.

1861, Thallium was discovered by Mr Crookes.

55th 1861, Rubidium was discovered by German chemists Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff.

1844, Ruthenium was officially discovered by Karl Ernst Klaus, at Kazan University.

1843, Swedish chemist Carl Gustaf Mosander discovered erbium and  terbium in 1843.

1841, Uranium was first isolated in pure form by Frenchy chemist Professsor Eugene Melchior Peligot.

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.

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. Zirconium oxide, ZrO2, had been discovered in 1789 by Martin Klaproth.

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.

40th 1811, Iodine was discovered by French chemist Bernard Courtois in 1811.

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.

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, Palladium was discovered by William Hyde Wollaston.

1798, Chromium metal was isolated by Louis Nicolas Vauquelin (born 61/5/1763).

1791, Titanium was discovered in Cornwall by the clergyman and amateur geologist William Gregor (born 25/12/1761).

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 density and other properties of the new element in 1785.

23rd 1783, Tungsten was first isolated in pure form by the brothers Jose and Fausto Elhuyar (born 11/10/1755 in Logrono, Spain).

22nd 1781, Molybednum was first isolated by Peter Jacob Hjelm (born 2/10/1746,in Sweden).

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.

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 reacted hydrochloric acid HCl with manganese dioxide MnO2. 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 Priestley 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 it as a separate element.

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 of producing water by burning hydrogen.

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.

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.

1669, Phosphorus (the 13th element to be recognised as such) was discovered by the German alchemist Hennig Brand, during experiments with urine.

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.

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.


Back to top