Historical Perspective

Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 117-128

First online:

Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville: A physician turned metallurgist

  • Jaime WisniakAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville (1818-1881) is well known for his work on metallurgy, on the separation and preparation of many metals on a large scale and in a very pure state, and developing the concepts and principles of the dissociation of gases. He was the first to prepare N2O5 in crystalline state and to develop an inexpensive process for the industrial manufacture of sodium and aluminum. Among the many metals he separated susccessfully are silicon, magnesium, platinum, iridium, osmium, manganese, and chromium. His development of the platinum-iridium alloy led to its adoption for manufacturing the meter and kilogram standards.


aluminum Deville dissociation iridium-rhodium alloy magnesium metric standards silicon