Adolf von Baeyer

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Adolf von Baeyer, whose real name was Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf Baeyer, was a famous German chemist who is best known for making indigo, a natural blue dye used in the textile industry. He came from a family of smart people, so as a child he did interesting experiments and soon became very interested in chemistry. At the age of 12, he found a double salt of copper. When he was getting his post-doctorate, he found barbituric acid. He started experimenting with indigo when he was about thirty years old and worked on it for eighteen long years before he found a good way to make it in a lab. Scientists later found the right formula for making the dye in factories based on what he had done. But that wasn’t the only thing Baeyer did well. He is also known for making fluorescein and phenolphthalein. He also believed in the stress theory of the carbon ring. It became known as the “Baeyer Strain Theory” and is now one of the most important ideas in biochemistry. But Baeyer was more than just an inventor. He was also well-known as a professor, and many of his students went on to become famous.

Early years and childhood

Adolf von Baeyer was born in Berlin, Germany, on October 31, 1835. Johann Jakob Baeyer, his father, was a lieutenant-general in the Prussian army and came up with the European system for measuring distances. His mother, Eugenie, was the author Julius Eduard Hitzig’s daughter. Adolf von Baeyer was the oldest of five children that his parents had.

Even when he was a child, Adolf was very curious. At the age of eight, he planted date seeds in a series of pots and fed them milk, wine, and ink. But when he was twelve, he did some experiments that worked better. He found a new double salt of copper.

Adolf went to Friedrich-Wilhelms Gymnasium for his high school education. In 1853, he went to Berlin University, where he studied math and physics. He soon realized that chemistry was what he was really interested in. So, in 1856, he went to Heidelberg to work in the lab of Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen.

There, he worked on methyl chloride with a German chemist named Friedrich August Kekulé. In 1857, the result of this work was made public. After that, he joined Kekulé’s private laboratory in Heidelberg and started working on clever structure theory with him.

Adolf von Baeyer’s work on cacodyl compounds got him his Ph.D. in 1858. Even though he did the work in Kekulé’s lab in Heidelberg, he got his degree from Berlin University.

When Baeyer got his Ph.D., he went back to work with Kekulé, who was a professor at the University of Ghent at the time. Here, Baeyer worked with uric acid, which led to the discovery of barbituric acid. This acid is used to make barbiturates, which are a part of sleeping pills. Because of his thesis, he was able to get a job as a teacher.

Adolf Baeyer’s Career

Adolf von Baeyer started his academic career in 1860 as a lecturer in organic chemistry at the Berlin Gewerbe-Akademie. Even though the pay was small, he took the job because the Academy offered him a large laboratory. Here is where Baeyer began his study of indigo.

Before that, the blue pigment could only be made from the Indian indigo plant. So, the price was too high and there wasn’t enough to go around. It was hard for the chemists to make the pigment synthetically and sell it at a price that most people could afford.

Even though he began his experiments in 1865 while he was still at Trade Academy, it took him a long time to finish them. Because indigo is so complicated, the job was very hard and took a long time.

In 1866, Baeyer was given a job at the University of Berlin as an assistant professor of chemistry. In the same year, he used zinc dust to change oxindole into indole. In 1869, he came up with the Baeyer–Emmerling method for making indoles.

Baeyer became a full professor at the University of Strasbourg in 1871. He worked on indigo and kept trying out new products while he was there. During his time here, he came up with the idea that carbon dioxide can be taken up by formaldehyde. During this time, he also figured out how to make phenolphthalein and made synthetic fluorescein.

Four years later, in 1875, he became a chemistry professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he stayed until his death in 1917. Here, he was able to build a great chemistry lab and keep working hard on indigo.

The “Baeyer–Drewson indigo syntheses” were published by Bayer in 1882. It turned out to be a simple way to make indigo in a lab setting. But it wasn’t until the next year that Baeyer could fully figure out how indigo was put together.

Baeyer also worked on many other things besides indigo, such as acetylene and polyacetylene. From these experiments, the well-known “Baeyer strain theory” of carbon rings was made. He later won the prestigious Nobel Prize in chemistry for coming up with this theory.

He and his team also looked at the structure of benzene and did research on cyclic terpene. He also worked on cyclic ketones and in 1899 published the Baeyer-Villiger theory of oxidation. Chemists were also interested in what he did with organic peroxides and oxonium compounds.

Von Baeyer began working on triphenylmethane in the year 1900. From this work, a new idea about how pigments are made chemically began to take shape. Also, his work helped figure out a lot about how the way organic substances look and how their atoms are organized affect each other.

He worked at the University of Munich almost until the end of his life. During that time, he was thought to be one of the most well-known organic chemistry teachers. During his career, he helped at least fifty talented students grow into well-known academics.

Works of note

One of Baeyer’s most important works was making indigo, which took almost eighteen years to finish. Even though his formula was only meant for making the pigment in the lab, it led to more research, and by 1897, indigo was being made on a commercial scale.

In 1871, he also did one of his most important works: he made phenolphthalein, a chemical compound that is mostly used as an indicator in acid-based titrations. In acidic conditions, he put together two equivalents of phthalic anhydride and two equivalents of phenol to make the product.

Another important thing he did was make fluorescein, which is mostly used as a fluorescent tracer in many different ways. In 1871, he used the Friedel-Crafts reaction to make it out of phthalic anhydride and resorcinol in the presence of zinc chloride.

Awards & Achievements

Adolf von Baeyer was given the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1905 “for his work on organic dyes and hydroaromatic compounds, which helped to advance organic chemistry and the chemical industry.”

Early in 1881, the Royal Society of London gave Baeyer the Davy Medal for his work with indigo.
In 1884, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences made him an honorary member from another country.

Personal History and Legacies

Adolf Baeyer married Adelheid (Lida) Bendemann in 1868. They had three children: a daughter who later married one of Adolf’s students, Oskar Piloty, and two sons, Hans and Otto. Hans taught medicine at the University of Munich while Otto taught physics at the University of Berlin.

Baeyer became a nobleman by birth on his 50th birthday in 1885. Since then, people have called him Adolf von Baeyer.
Baeyer worked until the end of his life. On August 20, 1917, he had a seizure at his country home in Starnberger See.

Estimated Net worth

Adolf is one of the wealthiest chemists and is on the list of the most well-known chemists. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Adolf Von Baeyer has a net worth of about $1.5 million.