Monday, January 15, 2007

Mr. Schlenk

A while ago I had a post about Henri Vigreux wich is one of the most accessed posts, (first place is for the moonshine-post ofcourse).

So here is another glassware hero:

Wilhelm Johann Schlenk (1879-1943)

Schlenk had two brother who were chemists (or a sort of chemist, one was director of a brewery). Schlenk studied in Munich under Oskar Piloty the son-in-law of Adolf von Bayer. Piloty was also the brother-in-law of Ludwig Knorr (yep... keep it in the family as Carbon-based Curiosities already said.)

Schlenk worked in industry for a while and received a patent about quinoids.
Very nice how they wrote patents back then (1908). (US patent 895,689)


Schlenk had contributions in the fields of organometallic- and radical chemistry. For this work he needed to invent new techniques for working under inert atmosphere. Schlenk’s name is most remembered by the glassware he invented for this purpose. He published some glassware designs ; Mitteilungen Über Metallketyle, eine große Klasse von Verbindungen mit dreiwertigem Kohlenstoff II in Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft, 1913, 46, 2840. The simplest design is the ‘standard’ Schlenk-tube.


The the only difference with the Schlenk tubes we use nowadays is the valve.

In this article he describes other Schlenk-glassware that I have never seen in real life.


A lot of fancy Schlenk-type glassware is still available, but I never use these things. We are not into this very delicate work here in Pharma.

A nice assay about Schlenk with further information about his life and scientific contributions can be found here in Angewandte.

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