200th Birthday: William Allen Miller

  • Author: ChemViews Magazine
  • Published Date: 17 December 2017
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
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William Allen Miller was born on December 17, 1817, in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK. He originally wanted to be a surgeon and became a medical student at King's College in London, UK, but switched his studies to chemistry. He then spent some time working under Justus von Liebig in Gießen, Germany.

In 1840, Miller took up a post as Demonstrator at King's College. One year later, he was appointed Assistant Lecturer to John Frederic Daniell, who he succeeded as Chair of Chemistry in 1845. Together, Miller and Daniell worked on electrolysis. Also in 1845, Miller became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

William Allen Miller was a pioneer of spectral analysis and astrochemistry. He studied spectral lines in the light of the sun and other stars, working with the astronomer William Huggins. The two researchers reported the first attempt to identify the elements in stars using spectral analysis, using reference spectra of the elements for comparison. In 1867, Miller and Huggins received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society for this work.

Miller died on September 30, 1870, in Liverpool, UK. In 1935, a crater on the moon was named after him by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

William Allen Miller is the answer to Guess the Chemist (72).


Selected Publications


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Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH