Gerhardt, Charles Frederic

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GERHARDT, CHARLES FREDERIC (1816–1856), French chemist. Gerhardt, who was born in Strasbourg, was one of the earliest scientists to bring order into the chaos besetting organic chemistry in the first half of the 19th century. He worked in Paris at the beginning of the 1840s as an assistant to Jean Baptiste Dumas (1800–1884) and with Auguste Laurent (1807–1853), and the three of them were mainly responsible for reviving the radical theory of structure. Gerhardt helped Laurent to develop a classification of organic compounds, and it was he who gave the name "phenol" to the acid produced by Laurent from coal tar in 1841. He also produced a detailed exposition of the concept of atoms and molecules. Gerhardt continued to spend much of his time working in Paris after receiving a professorship at the University of Montpellier in 1844, and his appointment was terminated in 1851. He taught chemistry privately in Paris until 1855, when he was appointed professor of chemistry and pharmacy at Strasbourg University. His main works were Précis de chimie organique (2 vols., 1844–45) and Traité de chimie organique (4 vols., 1853–56). He was also editor of the Journal chimique.

[Samuel Aaron Miller]