Can you guess the famous chemist from the description below?
This chemist was a pioneer in the field of surface tension and the measurement of surface films. Despite having no formal higher education, the person we are looking for developed a technique for making quantitative measurements on surface films. This chemist’s homemade surface balance consisted of a long, thin trough and a button suspended from an apothecary balance. The trough was divided into two by a movable thin strip of tin, which enabled the surface area of each side to be adjusted and controlled. With this equipment, the surface forces of mono-molecular films, the adhesion of different liquids on glass, the streaming of currents when salts were added to solutions, and the boundary-surface tension of emulsions and solutions were investigated.
The surface balance technique could be used for determining the size and shape of organic molecules at a time when X-ray diffraction was not yet available and the technique was the basis for the method later developed by Langmuir and often referred to as a Langmuir trough — a technique still used by surface chemists.
- The answer was published on February 14, 2012
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