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


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.

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Correspondence to George B. Kauffman.

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Kauffman, G.B., Chooljian, S.H. Friedrich Wöhler (1800–1882), on the Bicentennial of His Birth. Chem. Educator 6, 121–133 (2001).

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  • Ammonium
  • Urea
  • Organic Compound
  • Chemical Industry
  • Synthetic Chemical