Photographs of Chemical Samples, Imperial College

  1. Foundation stone laid by the Prince of Wales on June 16, 1846, for the Royal College of Chemistry, with a close-up. The original building still exists, in Oxford Street, London, but is now the home of a shoe shop.
  2. Sample of elemental potassium in the departmental archives, still lusterous more than 100 years after it was sealed in a glass tube. Original samples of metallic Sodium and Magnesium and gaseous Chlorine made by Humphrey Davy around 1806 can be seen at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, about two miles east of Imperial College. Samples of the other alkali metals (Rb, Cs) are suspected to exist at Heidelberg, in Germany where Bunsen worked. For a diagram of the 3D atomic structure of metallic potassium, click here.
  3. Samples collected by Michael Faraday, deriving from the period 1820 - 1860 and donated to the Royal College of Science in the 19th century. These include the first sample of Bromine ever isolated, in 1826 by A. J. Balard, from the action of chlorine on the residues remaining after crystallisation of salt from the salt-marshes of Montpellier, together with other original samples prepared by Faraday himself. The samples of CCl4 and SCl2 date from around 1820. A sample of the original benzene also from that period is at the Royal Institution. For a diagram of the 3D atomic structure of solid bromine, click here.
  4. The first ever sample of crystalline Silicon, prepared by DeVille in 1854 by the action of SiCl4 over molten Aluminium. For a diagram of the 3D atomic structure of crystalline silicon, click here.
  5. Letter from William Perkin's son, donating a small sample of the original mauveine prepared in 1856. A piece of silk dyed with mauveine is attached to the bottom of the letter, being part of a batch that originally was made into a dress for Queen Victoria. Close-up of the letter above.
  6. A 3D model of the structure of mauveine, and the history of the Greenford site.
  7. Photograph of Professor Charles Rees, FRS, the current Hofmann Professor of Chemistry at Imperial College Chemistry Department. Professor Rees is wearing a characteristic bow tie dyed with an original sample of Mauveine (a gift to him by Professor Otto Meth-Cohn) and is holding a recent issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry Journal named after William Perkin.
  8. William Crookes was at the Royal College of Chemistry during the 1850s, and is credited with the discovery of the element Thallium in 1861 (and, controversially, with C. A. Lamy its isolation as a metal in 1862). Crookes' discovery was the first of an element by an English chemist since Davy's preparations of the alkali metals. A sample of thallium metal made by Crookes is at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, along with numerous compounds of thallium.
  9. Professor Charles Rees, FRS, holding one of the original molecular models used by the Nobel Laureate Derek Barton in the 1950s to elaborate his theory of conformational analysis. Close up of the Barton model, showing the C/D rings of a steroid (the A/B rings are missing). Nowadays, computers are used to generate 3D models, such as the steroid shown here A model of the "Rees Molecule" (the ethyl derivative). and the background to its discovery is available here
  10. Samples of metallocenes, including Ferrocene, made by the Nobel Laureate Geoffrey Wilkinson and students, 1952-55. A model of Ferrocene itself can be seen here (if you have the Chime plug-in installed).
  11. Still to come: Samples from the original Hofmann collection, and the phthalocyanine story, including its modern incarnation in the work of Tony Barrett.

Photographs (c) Henry S. Rzepa. February, 1998.
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