Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge: Who was Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was a German analytical chemist, Runge conducted chemical experiments from a young age, serendipitously identifying the mydriatic effects of belladonna extract. In 1819 he demonstrated his finding to Goethe, who encouraged him to analyze coffee, A few months later, Runge identified caffeine.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge


Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge: Who was Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, a German analytical chemist best known for identifying the active ingredient caffeine, is being remembered with a Google Doodle on what would have been his 225th Birthday


Runge, who was born outside of Hamburg, Germany on 8 February 1795, began to show an interest in experimenting when he was just a teenager - which eventually led to a lifetime of achievements in the field.

One of Runge’s findings - the dilating effects that extract from the plant belladonna has on pupils - was fascinating enough that it captured the attention of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a well-known writer and polymath from Germany.

Intrigued by what else Runge could do at such a young age, Goethe tasked the chemist with identifying the chemical makeup of coffee beans.

The result was the isolation of the ingredient caffeine for the first time in 1819.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge Who was Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

After obtaining his doctorate and working as a professor at the University of Breslau, Runge continued to experiment - later writing two books in which he described his use of paper chromatography to separate chemical ingredients.

The chemist is also known for his work and research into synthetic dyes, which he discovered while working as a chemist at a chemical factory in Oranienburg, after leaving his professor post in 1831.

In addition to pioneering a new way of dyeing clothes, Runge identified and named components of the dyes, including carbolic acid, now called phenol, and discovered a way to extract sugar from beet juice. 

Runge died on 25 March 1867 but will always be remembered for his contributions to the field of chemistry.

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