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  • 12/1/2004

Martin Heinrich Klaproth


December 1,1743January 1,1817)

Martin Heinrich Klaproth was aGermanchemist.

Klaproth was born atWernigerode. During a large portion of his life he followed the profession of anapothecary. After acting as assistant in pharmacies atQuedlinburg,Hanover,Berlin andDanzig successively he came to Berlin on the death of Valentin Rose the elder in 1771 as manager of his business, and in 1780 he started an establishment on his own account in the same city, where from 1782 he was pharmaceutical assessor of the Ober-Collegium Medicum. In 1787 he was appointed lecturer inchemistry to the Royal Artillery, and when the university was founded in 1810 he was selected to be the professor of chemistry. He died in Berlin. Klaproth was the leading chemist of his time in Germany.

An exact and conscientious worker, he did much to improve and systematize the processes ofanalytical chemistry and mineralogy, and his appreciation of the value of quantitative methods led him to become one of the earliest adherents of theLavoisierian doctrines outsideFrance. He was the first to discoveruranium,zirconium andtitanium, and to characterize them as distinct elements, though he did not obtain any of them in the pure metallic state; and he elucidated the composition of numerous substances till then imperfectly known, including compounds of the then newly recognized elements:tellurium,strontium,cerium andchromium.

His papers, over 200 in number, were collected by himself inBeitrage zur chemischen Kenutniss der Mineralkorper (5 vols., 1795-1810) andChemische Abhandlungen gemischten Inhalts (1815). He also published a Chemisches Wörterbuch (1807-1810), and edited a revised edition of F. A. C. Gren’sHand buch der Chemie (1806).

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