TCE ForumWhats NewSearchOrders


The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 18 (2013) pp 302-313
DOI 10.1007/s00897132517

Alfred Werner and Coordination Chemistry: A Century after His Nobel Prize

George B. Kauffman

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,

Published: 1 November 2013

Abstract. Several historically significant coordination compounds are discussed, followed by a consideration of the most important pre-Werner theories that were advanced to explain them. Alfred Werner’s coordination theory and his controversary with Sophus Mads Jørgensen are then systematically examined in detail with regard to the cobalt(III)-ammines (coordination number six, octahedral configuration) according to compound types. The controversy resulted in the eventual triumph of Werner’s theory over the rival Bomstrand-Jørgensen chain theory and the award of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Werner, the first Swiss chemist to receive this honor. Later advances in the field and Werner’s legacy are briefly summarized.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; Nobel Prize; inorganic chemistry; coordination chemistry; molecular compounds; conductances; configuration; constitution; isomer counting; optical isomerism; geometric isomerism; metal-ammines; Switzerland.

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (285 KB) HTML format


The Chemical Educator 1996-2015