Monday, 24 September, 2018

Sir William Henry Perkin's 180th Birthday

Google Doodle Sir William Henry Perkin's 180th Birthday
Emmett Howard | 12 March, 2018, 14:11

He is credited for discovering synthetic dye at a young age of 18 and to introduce brightly coloured clothing to the masses which has set the foundation for today's chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Celebrating the 180th birthday of British chemist Sir William Henry Perkin, today's Google Doodle features the purple colour to commemorate his accidental invention of the first synthetic dye.

The brilliant chemist was born on March 12, 1838 in Shadwell, London.

Sonny Ross, a UK-based illustrator who drew today's Doodle tries to capture the frenzy of the once-exclusive purple clothing in Britain after mauveine was commercialised.

Interestingly, Perkin made the discovery quite At the age of 15, Perkin joined the Royal Collage of Chemistry under the guidance of August Wilhelm von Hofmann, who had the time had published a hypothesis on how it might be possible to synthesise quinine, an expensive natural substance much in demand for the treatment of malaria. Perkin further probed, adding potassium dichromate and alcohol into the aniline in various stages, which resulted in a deep purple solution.

It was here, while carrying out experiments with quinine, a chemical first discovered in the bark of certain tress, Perkin accidentally discovered a way of creating a dye which could be used to colour fabrics.

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He first named it Tyrian Purple, but later it became more commonly known as mauve - from the French for the plant used to make the colour.

The Science Museum said: "Perkin's synthetic colourant was a gateway, leading to the emergence of the synthetic dye industry". However, his attempt at making quinine from aniline, an cheap coal tar waste, was unsuccessful.

It was adopted by Queen Victoria and by by Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, in France. Following his success in manufacturing, Perkin was knighted on the 50th anniversary of the discovery in 1906.

The acknowledgement is known as the highest honour in American industrial chemistry.

The scientist died in 1907 of pneumonia and other medical repercussions of a burst appendix.

All of his three sons also went on to become chemists, following in their father's famous footsteps.

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