Morichini, Domenico Lino

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(b. Civitantino, Aquila, Italy, 23 September 1773; d. Rome, Italy, 19 November 1836)

medicine, chemistry.

The son of Anselmo Morichini and Domitilla Moratti, Morichini went to Rome for his university studies and remained there. In 1792 he graduated in philosophy and in medicine. The following year he was appointed assistant physician, and later head physician, at the Arcispedale di Santo Spirito. While holding important executise positions in public hygiene and health organizations and continuing to practice medicine throughout his lifetime, Morichini lectured in chemistry at the University of Rome from 1800. In fact, he introduced this new subject of instruction by presenting Lavoisier’s doctrines instead of the phlogiston theory and by setting up an experimental chemistry laboratory.

In 1802 Morichini was appointed to make the chemical examination of fossil elephant teeth found in Rome. Treating them with concentrated sulfuric acid, he noted a lively effervescence due to the discharge of gas, which he recognized to consist of both carbon dioxide and fluorine. The latter, released especially from the tooth enamel, was recognizable because it corroded the glass of the vessel used in the experiment and because, when brought into contact with limewater, it formed lime fluoride “endowed with all the properties of natural fluorspar” (that is, CaF2). Morichini subsequently found elemental fluorine in human teeth.


I. Original Works. Morichini’s “Analisi chimica del dente fossile” is included in Carlo Lodovico Morozzo, “Sopra un dente fossile trovato nelle vicinanze di Roma,” in Memorie di matematica e di fisica della Società italiana delle scienze, 10 , pt. 1 (1803), 166–170. Morichini returned to the subject in “Analisi dello smalto di un dente fossile di elefante e dei denti umani,” ibid., 12 , pt. 2 (1805), 73-88, 268–269. See also Raccolta degli scritti editi ed inediti del Cav. Dott. Domenico Morichini (Rome, 1852).

II. Secondary Liteature. See the anonymous “Memorie storiche del Cavalier Domenico Morichini,” in Raccolta degli scritti (see above); and Luigi Belloni. “II fluoro dentario scoperto a Roma nel 1802 da Domenico Morichini,” in Scritti in onore di Adalberto Pazzini (Rome, 1968), 199–205.

Luigi Belloni