Gutbier, Felix Alexander

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Gutbier, Felix Alexander

(b. Leipzig, Germany, 21 March 1876; d. Jena, Germany, 4 October 1926)


Gutbier was the son of Carl F. Gutbier, a factory owner, and Fanny Thilo. He studied chemistry at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden under Walter Hempel and Fritz Foerster, then at the University of Erlangen with Otto Fischer, and finally at the University of Zurich under Alfred Werner. He received his doctorate in 1899 under Otto Fischer with the dissertation. “Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Rosinduline.” After becoming Fischer’s assistant, he qualified for university lecturing in 1902 with Studien über das Tellur and was appointed Privatdozent in chemistry at the University of Erlangen. He refused an offer in 1907 to move to the University of Montevideo, and in the same year he was named extraordinary professor at Erlangen. In 1912 he was called to the Techdnische Hochschule in Stuttgart as professor of electro-chemistry and chemical technology. Later he became professor of inorganic chemistry there and director of the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry and lnorganic chemical Technology. From 1920 to 1922 he was rector of the Technische Hochschule. He was called to the University of Jena as professor of inorganic chemistry and director of the chemistry laboratory in 1922. In Jena, from 1924 until 1926, he was dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, which was founded through his initiative and was independent of the Faculty of Philosophy. From Easter 1926 until his death he was rector of Jena. Gutbier’s first wife was Olga Fischer, daughter of Otto Fischer; they had two sons. His second wife was Gertrud Gaugler.

Gutbier’s scientific publications treat many branches of inorganic chemistry; only in the beginning of his career was he concerned with problems in organic chemistry with his teacher Otto Fischer. While in Erlangen he became involved in inorganic chemistry. His analytical, inorganic, and atomic weight investigations included a special interest in tellurium. Gutbier turned his attention to the chemistry of coordination complexes and colloid chemistry. Beginning with the colloids of tellurium, he went on to the description of the metallic colloids silver, gold, platinum and the platinum metals, and of other colloidal elements. He also examined protective colloids and their specific effectiveness. In addition, he obtained a wealth of results in the chemistry of coordination complexes. Particularly noteworthy are the findings on hexachloro and hexabromo salts and of many metallic acids.

In all these investigations very different reactions were studied: for example, those of hydrogen sulfide with selenious acid, of oxygen with ruthenium, of hydrogen peroxide with tellurium, the catalytic effect of platinum black on hydrazine, and the receptivity for hydrogen induced by the presence of palladium, platinum, rhodium, and iridium. In addition, Gutbier worked out quantitative determinations and methods of separation for tellurium, palladium, and selenium, and for tungstic acid by means of nitrone; he also formulated separation methods for palladium and tin by means of dimethylglyoxime and electrolysis, respectively.

Because of his ability in analytic chemistry and his work on palladium, tellurium, and bismuth, Gutbier also succeeded in the difficult field of atomic weight determination. His researches in physical chemistry include the electrolysis of bismuth salt solutions and the preparation of selenium colloids through electrolysis and of mercury colloids through sputtering.

Gutbier also had a great interest in the history of chemistry, as shown in his work on Henri Moissan (1908) and in his essay on Goethe, Grand Duke Karl August, and chemistry in Jena (1926).

His activity as a teacher found expression in Gutbier’s Lehrbuch der qualitativen Analyse, his monograph Chemiestudium und Chemieunterricht, and in his collaborative efforts with L. Birckenbach: Prakitsche Anleitung zur Gewichtsanalyse. His technical aptiude is evident in his invention of the high-speed dialyzer in the course of his work on co1loid chemistry.

Gutbier was above all an experimental chemist who was able to inspire numerous students and co-workers through his organizational skills. He published about 260 papers.


Gutbier’s books include Zur Erinnerung an Henri Moissan (Erlangen, 1908); Praktische Anlieitung zur Gewiehtsanalyses, analyse, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart, 1919), written with L. Birckenbach; Lehrbuch der qualitativen Analyse (Stuttgart, 1920); Prakische Anleitung zur Mass analyses, 4th ed. (Stuttgart, 1924), written with L. Birckenbach; and Goethe, Karl August und die Chemie in Jena (Jena, 1926).

Part of his doctoral diss. was published in the complete works of Otto Fischer, and part appeared as “Über, Thio-N-methyl-Pyridon und-Chinolon,” in Berichte der Deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft, 33 (1900), 3358–3359.

A systematic bibliography of his journal articles is in Poggendorff, VI, 983–984.

F. Hein

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