Moissan, Henri

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MOISSAN, HENRI (1852–1907), French inorganic chemist and Nobel Prize winner. Moissan was born in Paris of a non-Jewish father and a Jewish mother. He joined the Ecole Supérieure de Pharmacie, where in 1886 he became professor of toxicology and in 1899 professor of inorganic chemistry. From 1900 he was professor of inorganic chemistry at the Sorbonne. Moissan's main work was on metal oxides and inorganic and organic fluorine compounds. He developed a laboratory electric furnace which he used to make artificial (black) diamonds. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1906 for his investigation and isolation of the element fluorine, and for the adoption in the service of science of the electric furnace called after him.

Moissan published his work in scientific journals and in his books, Le Four Electrique (1897) and Le Fluor et ses composés (1900); he also wrote an inorganic chemistry textbook in five volumes, Traité de chimie minérale (1904–06).


W.R., in: Proceedings of the Royal Society, A80 suppl. (1908), xxx–xxxvii; Ramsey, in: Journal of the Chemical Society, 101 (1912), 477–88; Lebeau, in: Bulletin de la Société Chimique de France (1935), 135–8; T.N. Levitan, Laureates: Jewish Winners of the Nobel Prize (1960), 30–33.

[Samuel Aaron Miller]