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Born on this day
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (born April 1, 1933) is a French physicist and Nobel Laureate.
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Important personalitiesBack

Richard Adolf Zsigmondy1.4.1865

Wikipedia (13 Mar 2013, 09:06)
Richard Adolf Zsigmondy (1 April 1865 – 23 September 1929) was an Austrian-Hungarian chemist and Nobel laureate for chemistry known for his research in colloids. The crater Zsigmondy on the Moon is named in his honour.

Early years

Zsigmondy was born in Vienna, Austrian Empire to Hungarian parents Irma Szakmáry, a poet born in Martonvásár and Adolf Zsigmondy Sr., born in Bratislava, who had been a scientist and had invented surgical instruments in the field of dentistry. The Zsigmondy family, who was Lutheran, can trace back its origin to Johannes (hung. János) Sigmondi (1686–1746, Bártfa, Kingdom of Hungary) included many teachers, priests and Hungarian freedom-fighters. Richárd was raised by his mother after his father's early death in 1880, and received a comprehensive education. He enjoyed hobbies such as climbing and mountaineering with his siblings. His older brothers, Otto (a dentist) and Emil (a physician), were well-known mountain climbers; his younger brother, Karl Zsigmondy, became a notable mathematician in Vienna. In high school he developed an interest in natural science, especially in chemistry and physics, and experimented in his home laboratory.

His academic career began at the University of Vienna Medical Faculty, but soon moved on to the Technical University of Vienna and later to the University of Munich in order to study chemistry. In Munich his teacher was Wilhelm von Miller (1848–1899), where he started his scientific career by concluding research on indene and receiving his Ph.D. in 1889.


Zsigmondy left organic chemistry and joined the physics group of August Kundt at the University of Berlin and finished his habilitation at the University of Graz in 1893. Because of his knowledge about glass and its colouring in 1897 the Schott Glass factory offered him a job which he accepted. He invented the Jenaer Milchglas and conducted some research on the red Ruby glass.

Zsigmondy left Schott Glass in 1900 but remained in Jena as private lecturer to conduct his research. Together with the optical instrument manufacturer Zeiss, he developed the slit ultramicroscope. His scientific career continued in 1908 at the University of Göttingen as professor of inorganic chemistry, where he remained the rest of his professional career. In 1925 Zsigmondy received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on colloids and the methods he used, e.g. the ultramicroscope.

Before Zsigmondy finished his PhD thesis in organic chemistry, he published research on colouring glass with silver salts and dissolved silver particles, which he recovered by dissolving the glass in hydrofluoric acid.

During his work in Graz Zsigmondy accomplished his most notable research work, the work on the chemistry of colloids (a certain coloured glass). The exact mechanism which yields the red colour of the Cranberry or Ruby glass was a result of his studies of colloids. In later years he worked on gold hydrosol and used them to characterize protein solutions. While in Jena he developed the slit ultramicroscope together with Henry Siedentopf. After moving to Göttingen, Zsigmondy improved his optical equippment to be applied for the observation of finest nanoparticles suspended in liquid solution. Therefore he introduced the immersion ultramicroscope in 1912.

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