The Chemical Educator

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 121–133 | Cite as

Friedrich Wöhler (1800–1882), on the Bicentennial of His Birth

  • George B. KauffmanEmail author
  • Steven H. Chooljian
Chemistry and History


The life and contributions to various areas of chemistry of German chemist Friedrich Wöhler (1800–1882) are briefly sketched. His serendipitous synthesis of urea from ammonium cyanate in 1828, which is dealt with in some detail, challenged the vitalistic theory that organic compounds can be produced only by living organisms and led to today’s synthetic chemical industry and its host of products that we take for granted.


Ammonium Urea Organic Compound Chemical Industry Synthetic Chemical 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryCalifornia State UniversityFresno, Fresno
  2. 2.Internal Medicine Associates of FresnoFresno

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