Schott, Otto Friedrich

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(b. Witten, Germany, 17 December 1851: d. Jena, Germany, 27 August 1935)

glass chemistry, glass manufacture.

A leading pioneer in glass chemistry, Schott crerated new types of glass of outstanding quality for use in optics, in the laboratory, and in industry. He came from a family of glassmakers: his father, a master in the making of window glass, became co-owner of a glassworks in Westphalia in 1853. Schott attended the Realschule in Witten and the trade school in Hagen. In 1869 he volunteered for service in chemical factories in Haspe and abroad. From 1870 to 1873 he studied chemistry and chemical technology at the universities of Würzburg and Leipzig. He received his doctorate from the University of Jena in 1875 for a work on defects in window glass manufacturing. He then returned to Haspe as an industrial chemist and made study trips to England and France. In 1877–1878 he established an iodine and saltpeter factory in Oviedom Spain, and in 1880 was responsible for the renovation of two Spanish glassworks.

In May 1879 Schott sent a sample of his newly smeltetd lithium glass to Ernst Abbe, requesting him to test its optical properties. The ensuing close collaboration between the two researchers led Schott to move to Jena in 1882. Glasses with high refractive power had always possessed high dispersive power and consequently could not satisfy the theoretical requirements for optical systems that Abbe had set forth. But the glass samples that Schott smelted finally made possible “a large variety in the gradation of optical characteristics,” as Abbe wrote in 1881, and far surpassed the existing types of glass.

Putting to use his energy and talent for the technical application of knowledge, Schott, along with his associates Abbe, Carl Zeiss, and the latter’s son Roderich, founded a glass technology laboratory in 1883 and, in 1884, the Glastechnische Versuchsanstalt at Jena. The latter, which subsequently became the Jena glassworks of Schott and Associates, soon achieved world fame for its Jena standard glass 16 III (thermometer glass, 1884), the laboratory glasses (beginning in 1892), Supraxglass (1890’s uviol glass (1903), and apparatus glass 20 (1920). Schott directed factory—which in 1919 became part of the Carl Zeiss Foundation—until 1927 1927 and was the recipient of many honors.


I. Original Works. Schott’s writings and patents include Beiträage zur Theorie und Praxis der Glasfabrikation (Jena, 1875), his dissertation; “Chemische Vorgäange beim Schmelzen des Glassatzes, “in Dinglers polytyechnisches Journal. 215 (1875), 529–538; “Ueber Abkühlung des Glases und vom sogenannten Hartglase,” ibid., 216 (1875), 75–78, 288; “Ueber die Constitution des Glases,” ibid., 346–353; “Ueber Krystallisation-Produkte im gewöhnlichen Glase,” in Annalen der Physik und Chemie, 155 (1875), 422–442, also in Dinglers polytechisches Journal, 218 (1875), 151–165: “Gewinnung des Schwefels aus Gyps und Glaubersalz bei der Glasfabrikation,” ibid., 221 (1876), 142–146 (Prussian patent of 3 Dec. 1875): “Studien über die Härtung des Glases,” in Verhandlungen des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gewerbefleisses58 (1879), 273–305; “Lithiumglas,” ibid., 59 (1880), 130–135; Beiträge zur Kenntniss der unorganischen Schmelzverbindungen (Brunswick, 1881): “Über Glasschmelzeri für optische und andere wissenschaftliche Zwecke,” in Verhand-lungsberichte des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gewerbefleisses67 (1888), 162–180; and “Verfahren zur Herstellung von Verbund-Hartglas,” Patentschrift no. 51, 578, Kl, 82, Glas, issued 11 Mar, 1892 (German patent issued 5 Apr. 1891). His scientific papers on the physical properties of new glasses written with A. Winkelmann were published in Annalen der Physik und chemie, n.s. 51 (1894), 698–720, 730–746; 61 (1897). 105–141; and “Uuml;ber elektrisches Kapillarlicht,” ibid., 59 (1896), 768–772.

Scientific correspondence includes Der Briefwechselzwischen Otto Schott und Ernst Abbe iiber das optische Glas 1879–1881. H. Kühnert, ed. (Jena, 1946), with bibliography of Schott;s scientific papers on p. xxxv:and Briefe und Dokumente zur Geschichte des VEB Optik Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen, 1 Die wissenschafiliche Grundlgung (Glastechinisches Laboratorum und Versuchsglashütte) 1882–1884. H. Kühnert, ed. (Jena. 1953), with bibliography of Schott’s scienntific papers on pp. lxxix–lxxxi.

There are also bibliographies in Poggendorff, III 1209; IV, 1346: and VI, 2364.

II. Secondary Literature. Obtituaries and other biographical notes are listed in Poggendorff. VIIa, 240. See especially E. Berger, in Zeitschrift für technische Physki, 17 (1936), 6–11; G. Keppler, in Glastechnische Berichte14 (1936), 49–54; H. Kühnert, in Zeitschrift für technische Physik, 25 (1952), 18–24; A. Silverman, in Bulletin of the American Ceramics Society15 (1936), 169–175; and W.E.S. Turner, in Journal of the Society of Glass Technology20 (1936), 84–94.

Other literature is E. Berger, “50 Jahre Jenaer Glas,” in Zeiss Nachrichten, no. 8 (Jan. 1935), 1–7; H. Kühnert, Urkundenbuch zur Thüringischen Glashüttengescgichte (Jena, 1935), 271–281; and Otto Schott. Eine Studie über seine Wittener Zeit bis zur Gründung des Jenaer Glaswerkes (Witten, 1940): M. von Rohr. “Zu Otto Schotts siebzigsten Geburtstag (17. Dez.).” in Naturwissenschaften, 9 (1921), 999–1010: and “Die Entwicklungsjahre der Kunst, optisches Glas zu schmelzen,” ibid., 12 (1924), 781–797; and E. Zschimmer, Die Glasindustrie in Jena—ein Werk von Schott und Abbe 2nd ed. (Jena, 1923).

Also see E. Abbe. Gesannelte Abhandlungen IV pt. 1, Arbeiten zum Glaswerl zwischen 1882 and 1885. Die Entstehung des Glaswerkes Schott & Gen., M. von Rohr. ed. (Jena 1928): F. Auerbach, Ernst Abbe (Leipzig, 1918); and N. Günther, “Ernst Abbe,” in Dictionary of Scientific Biography, I 6–9.

Hans-GÜnther KÖrber