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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 13 Issue 6 (2008) pp 365-373

Gerold Schwarzenbach (1904–1978) and His School of Anorganische Chemie at the Universität Zürich, Heir Apparent to Alfred Werner (1866–1919)

G. Wayne Craig,* George B. Kauffman, and Walter Schneider

*Lead Finding Research, Oberwilerstrasse 76 CH-4102 Binningen, Switzerland, cralion@sunrise.ch and Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, georgek@csufresno.edu; Professor Emeritus of Inorganic Chemistry, Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule (ETH), Am Pfisterhölzli 48, CH-8606 Greifensee, Switzerland

Published online: 1 December 2008

Abstract. In 1913 Alfred Werner’s (1866–1919) controversial theory of coordination chemistry brought him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Unfortunately, after his death there was no clear successor at the Universität Zürich to continue his back-breaking style of investigations in this field with the same excitement and vision. At the time of Werner’s unexpected death Gerold Karl Schwarzenbach (1904–1978) was barely fifteen years of age and still contemplating how he could make a living in his small conservative village. The fate of this young man’s adventure to study chemistry with the hope of working in the silk-dyeing factory where his father was foreman would change his life forever. He not only developed later the enthusiasm and diverse skills to excel in chemistry, but he contributed new concepts to bring inorganic chemistry to a new level.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; chemists in Switzerland; physical chemistry; organic chemistry; electrochemistry; inorganic chemistry; analytical chemistry; coordination chemistry; chelates; biography

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: georgek@csufresno.edu)

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Issue date: December 1, 2008

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