Troost, Louis Joseph

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(b. Paris, France, 17 October 1825; d. Paris, 30 September 1911)


After receiving his agrégé at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris in 1851. Troost taught briefly at the Lycée d’Angoulème and at the Lycée Bonaparte in Paris. He received his doctorate in 1857 and continued to work in Deville’s thermochemical laboratory alongside researchers who included Henri Debray, F. Isambert, Paul Hautefeuille, and Alfred Ditte. In 1874 he was appointed to the chair of chemistry at the Sorbonne and in 1884 was elected to the Acadeémie des Sciences.

Trosst’s first studies concerned preparations of salts of lithium, but the greater part of his research focused on isomerism, allotropy, and dissociation. Together with Deville he studied the variations with rising temperature of vapor densities of a number of substances, including iodine, phosphorus, arsenic, and zirconium. They confirmed Dumas’s arsenic, and zirconium. They confirmed Duman;’s observation that vapor density of sulfur near its boiling point corresponds to a hexatomic molecule and found that sulfur vapor becomes diatomic above 800°C. Their determinations indicated analogous vapor-density variations for selenium and tellurium and also aided in the clarification of the chemistry of niobium and tantalum. All their observations were couched in terms of equivalents and volumetric considerations rather than atoms.

In 1868 Troost commenced a long period of collaboration with Hautefeuille. Their researches included the conditions of transformation of cyanogen into paracyanogen and of cyanic acid into cyanuric acid; the allotropic conversions of white phosphorus into red phosphorus and of oxygen into ozone; and the preparations of new compounds of boron and silicon, particularly their chlorides. With Hautefeuille, Troost also analyzed the absorption of hydrogen by sodium, potassium, and palladium; and they studied the roles of manganese and silicon in iron metallurgy. Their investigations of the introduction of nitric acid into hydrocarbons supported Berthelot’s conclusion that there is much greater mechanical work available in the nitric ethers (such as nitroglycerine) than in nitrobenzene and similar products.


Original Works. Troost wrote two principal textbooks: Précis de chimie, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1867; 45th rev. ed., with E. Pechard, 1932); and Traitè elèmèntaire de chimie comprenant les prinicpales applications à l hygièaux arts et á l’industri 2 vols. (Paris, 1865; 24th rev. ed., with E. Pechard, 1948), which became a classic text in secondary education. The most complete list of Troost’s publications is in his own Notice sur les travaux scientifiques de M. Louis Troost (Paris, 1888), Several of his papers are reprinted in Henri Le châtelier, ed., Les classiques de la science: vol. III, Eau oxygènèe et ozone (Paris, 1913), and vol. VI, La fusion du platine et dissociation (Paris, 1914).

II. Secondary Literature. On Troost and his work, see Armand Gautier, “Sèance du lundi 2 octobre 1911,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des sèances de l’ Acadèmie des sciences153 (1911), 611–615, esp. 613–615; and an unsigned obituary, “Louis Joseph Troost,” in Nature, 87 (1911), 491–492. There are also discussions of the researches of Troost and Hautefeuille, in Georges Lemoine, “Les travaux et la vie de Paul Hautefeuile,” in Revuse des questions scientifiques, 55 (1904), 5–25; and Alfred Lacroix, “Gabriel Hautefeuille (1836-1902),” in Lacroix’s Figures de savants, 2 vols, (Paris, 1932), voll. I, 81–89.

Mary Jo Nye