Karl Karlovich Klaus

Timeline of chemical elements discoveries

The discovery of the elements known to exist today is presented here in chronological order. The elements are listed generally in the order in which each was first defined as the pure element, as the exact date of discovery of most elements cannot be accurately defined. There are no written records for the discoveries of the first few elements that were known in antiquity.

Given is each element's name, atomic number, year of first report, name of the discoverer, and some notes related to the discovery.

Unrecorded discoveries

Earliest use
Discoverers Place of
29 Copper 9000 BCE 6000 BCE Middle East Anatolia Copper was probably the first metal mined and crafted by man. Earliest estimates of discovery of copper suggest around 9000 BCE in the Middle East. It is one of the most important materials to humans throughout the entire copper and bronze ages. Copper beads dating from 6000 BCE were found in Çatal Höyük, Anatolia.
79 Gold before 6000 BCE 5500 BCE Middle East Egypt Archaeologists suggest that first use of gold began with the first civilizations in the Middle East. It may have been the first metal used by humans. Oldest remaining gold jewelry is that in the tomb of Egyptian Queen Zer.
82 Lead 7000 BCE 3800 BCE Near East Abydos It is believed that lead smelting began at least 9000 years ago, and the oldest known artifact of lead is statuette found at the temple of Osiris on the site of Abydos dated circa 3800 BC. Lead was first purified and clearly differentiated from tin by medieval Arabic chemists
47 Silver before 5000 BCE ~4000 BCE Asia Minor ? Estimated to have happened to shortly after that of copper and gold.
26 Iron before 5000 BCE 4000BCE ? Egypt There is evidence that iron is known from before 5000 BCE. The oldest known iron objects used by humans are some beads made from meteorite iron, in Egypt, made about 4000BCE. Discovery of smelting around 3000 BCE lead to the prominence of use of iron for tools and weapons, which lead to the start of iron age around 1200 BCE.
6 Carbon 3750 BCE ? Egyptians and Sumerians ? Earliest known use of charcoal for the reduction of copper, zinc and tin ores in the manufacture of bronze, by the Egyptians and Sumerians. Diamonds were probably known as early as 2500 BCE First true chemical analyses were made in the 18th century CE, and in 1789 was listed by Antoine Lavoisier as an element.
50 Tin 3500 BCE 2000 BCE ? ? First smelt in combination with copper around 3500 BCE to produce bronze and brass. Oldest artifacts date around 200 BCE. First purified and clearly differentiated from lead by medieval Arabic chemists (ca. 700–1400 CE).
16 Sulfur before 2000 BCE ? Chinese/Indians ? First used at least 4000 years ago. First identified as an element by Geber (ca. 800 CE). Also recognized as an element by Antoine Lavoisier in 1777.
80 Mercury before 2000 BCE 1500 BCE

Chinese/Indians Egypt Known to ancient Chinese and Hindus before 2000 BC, and found in Egyptian tombs dating from 1500 BCE. First identified as an element by Geber (ca. 800 CE).
30 Zinc before 1000 BCE 1000 BCE Indian metallurgists Indian subcontinent Extracted as a metal since antiquity by Indian metallurgists before 1000 BCE, but the true nature of this metal was not understood in ancient times. Identified as a unique metal by the metallurgist Rasaratna Samuccaya in 800 CE and by the alchemist Paracelsus in 1526. Isolated by Andreas Sigismund Marggraf in 1746.

Recorded discoveries

Observed or
Report of
(widely recognized)

(widely known)

Person who
widely reported first
(usually accepted discoverer)
33 Arsenic 800 CE (ca.) ? 800 CE (ca.) Geber Geber or A.Magnus Geber Discovered and isolated by Geber, who described its preparation in his Liber Fornacum, ca. 800 CE. Albertus Magnus was the first European to isolate the element in 1250. In 1649, Johann Schröder published two ways of preparing elemental arsenic.
51 Antimony 800 (ca.) 800 (ca.) Geber Geber Discovered and isolated by Geber ca. 800 CE. Basilius Valentinus was the first European to describe the element around 1450. First description of a procedure for isolating elemental antimony in 1540 by Vannoccio Biringuccio.
83 Bismuth 800 (ca.) 1753 Geber C.F.Geoffroy Discovered by Geber ca. 800. Later described in writings attributed to Basilius Valentinus around 1450. Definitively identified by Claude François Geoffroy in 1753.
15 Phosphorus 1669 1669 H.Brand H.Brand Prepared from urine, it was the first element to be chemically discovered.
27 Cobalt 1732 ? G.Brandt ? Proved that the blue color of glass is due to a new kind of metal and not bismuth as thought previously.
78 Platinum 1735 1735 A.de Ulloa A. de Ulloa First description of a metal found in South American gold was in 1557 by Julius Caesar Scaliger. Ulloa published his findings in 1748, but Sir Charles Wood also investigated the metal in 1741. First reference to it as a new metal was made by William Brownrigg in 1750.
28 Nickel 1751 1751 A.F.Cronstedt A.F.Cronstedt By attempting to extract copper from the mineral known as "fake copper" (now known as niccolite).
12 Magnesium 1755 1808 J.Black H.Davy Black observed that magnesia alba (MgO) was not quicklime (CaO). Davy isolated it electrochemically from magnesia.
1 Hydrogen 1766 1500(ca.) H.Cavendish Paracelsus Cavendish was the first to distinguish from other gases, although Paracelsus around 1500, Robert Boyle, and Joseph Priestley had observed its production by reacting strong acids with metals. Lavoisier named it in 1793.
8 Oxygen 1771 1771 C.W.Scheele C.W.Scheele Obtained from by heating mercuric oxide and nitrates in 1771, but published his findings in 1777. Joseph Priestley also prepared this new air by 1774, but only Lavoisier recognized it as a true element and named it in 1777.
7 Nitrogen 1772 1772 D.Rutherford D.Rutherford He showed that the air in which animals had breathed, even after removal of the exhaled carbon dioxide, was no longer able to burn a candle. Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Henry Cavendish, and Joseph Priestley also studied the element about the same time, and Lavoisier named it in 1775-6.
17 Chlorine 1774 1774 C.W.Scheele C.W.Scheele Obtained it from hydrochloric acid, but thought it was an oxide. Only in 1808 Humphry Davy recognized it as an element.
25 Manganese 1770 1774 T.O.Bergman J.G.Gahn Distinguished pyrolusite as the calx of a new metal. Ignatius Gottfred Kaim also discovered the new metal in 1770 and Scheele in 1774 too. It was isolated by reduction of manganese dioxide with carbon.
56 Barium 1772 1808 C.W.Scheele H.Davy Scheele distinguished a new earth (BaO) in pyrolusite and Davy isolated the metal by elecrolysis.
42 Molybdenum 1778 1781 C.W.Scheele P.J.Hjelm Scheele recognised as a constituent of molybdena.
52 Tellurium 1782 1795? F.-J.M. von
M.H.Klaproth Muller observed it as an impurity in gold ores from Transylvania.
74 Tungsten 1781 1783 T.Bergman J.J.Elhuyar, J.José &F.Elhuyar Bergman obtained from scheelite an oxide of a new element. The Elhuyars obtained tungstic acid from wolframite and reduced it with charcoal.
38 Strontium 1787 1808 W.Cruikshank H.Davy Cruikshank and Adair Crawford in 1790 concluded that strontianite contained a new earth. It was eventually isolated electrochemically in 1808 by Humphry Davy.
1789 A.Lavoisier The first modern list of chemical elements, containing among others, 23 elements of those known then. He also redefined the term "element". Until him, all metals except mercury were not considered elements.
40 Zirconium 1789 1824 M.H.Klaproth J.J.Berzelius Klaproth identified the a new element in zirconia.
92 Uranium 1789 1841 M.H.Klaproth E.-M.Péligot Mistakenly identified an uranium oxide obtained from pitchblende as the element itself and named it after the recently discovered planet Uranus.
22 Titanium 1791 1825 W.Gregor J.J.Berzelius Gregor found an oxide of a new metal in ilmenite and Martin Heinrich Klaproth independently discovered the element in rutile in 1795 and named it. Pure metallic form was obtained only in 1910 by Matthew A. Hunter.
39 Yttrium 1794 1840 J.Gadolin C.G.Mosander Discovered in gadolinite, but Mosander showed later that it contained more elements.
24 Chromium 1797 1798 L.N.Vauquelin L.N.Vauquelin Discovered and isolated from crocoite.
4 Beryllium 1798 1828 L.N.Vauquelin F.Wöhler&A.Bussy Vauquelin discovered the oxide in beryl and emerald, and Klaproth suggested the present name around 1808.
23 Vanadium 1801 1830 A.M.del Río N.G.Sefström Río found the metal in vanadinite but retracted the claim after Hippolyte Victor Collet-Descotils disputed it. Sefström isolated and named it, and later it was shown that Río had been right in the first place.
41 Niobium 1801 1864 C.Hatchett C.W.Blomstrand Hatchett found the element in columbite ore and named it columbium. Heinrich Rose proved in 1844 that the element is distinct from tantalum, and renamed it niobium which was officially accepted in 1949.
73 Tantalum 1802 ? A.G.Ekeberg ? Ekeberg found another element in minerals similar to columbite and in 1844, Heinrich Rose proved that it was distinct from niobium.
46 Palladium 1802 1802 W.H.Wollaston W.H.Wollaston Wollaston discovered it in samples of platinum from South America, but did not publish his results immediately. He had intended to name it after the newly discovered asteroid, Ceres, but by the time he published his results in 1804, cerium had taken that name. Wollaston named it after the more recently discovered asteroid Pallas.
58 Cerium 1803 1839 M.H.Klaproth,
J.J.Berzelius &
C.G.Mosander Berzelius and Hisinger discovered the element in ceria and named it after the newly discovered asteroid (then considered a planet), Ceres. Klaproth discovered it simultaneously and independently in some tantalum samples. Mosander proved later that the samples of all three researchers had at least another element in it, lanthanum.
76 Osmium 1803 1803 S.Tennant S.Tennant Tennant had been working on samples of South American platinum in parallel with Wollaston and discovered two new elements, which he named osmium and iridium.
77 Iridium 1803 1803 S.Tennant S.Tennant Tennant had been working on samples of South American platinum in parallel with Wollaston and discovered two new elements, which he named osmium and iridium, and published the iridium results in 1804.
45 Rhodium 1804 1804 W.H.Wollaston W.H.Wollaston Wollaston discovered and isolated it from crude platinum samples from South America.
19 Potassium 1807 1807 H.Davy H.Davy Davy discovered it by using electrolysis on potash.
11 Sodium 1807 1807 H.Davy H.Davy Davy discovered it a few days after potassium, by using electrolysis on soda.
20 Calcium 1808 1808 H.Davy H.Davy Davy discovered the metal by electrolysis of quicklime.
5 Boron 1808 1808 J.L.Gay-Lussac &
H.Davy On June 30, 1808, Lussac and Thénard announced a new element in sedative salt, and nine days later Davy announced the isolation of metallic boron.
53 Iodine 1811 1811 B.Courtois B.Courtois Courtois discovered it in the ashes of sea weed.
3 Lithium 1817 1817 J.A.Arfwedson J.A.Arfwedson Arfwedson discovered the alkali in petalite.
48 Cadmium 1817 1817 K.S.L Hermann,
J.C.H. Roloff
K.S.L Hermann,
F. Stromeyer,
J.C.H. Roloff
All three found an unknown metal in a sample of zinc oxide from Silesia, but the name that Stromeyer gave became the accepted one.
34 Selenium 1817 1817 J.J.Berzelius &
J.J.Berzelius &
While working with lead they discovered a substance that they thought it is tellurium, and after realizing it is different.
14 Silicon 1824 1824 J.J.Berzelius J.J.Berzelius Humphry Davy thought in 1800 that silica is an element, not a compound, and in 1808 suggested the present name. In 1811 Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thénard probably prepared impure silicon, but Berzelius is credited with the discovery for obtaining the pure element in 1824.
13 Aluminium 1825 1825 H.C.Ørsted H.C.Ørsted Antoine Lavoisier predicted in 1787 that alumine is the oxide of an undiscovered element, and in 1808 Humphry Davy tried to decompose it, and although failed, suggested the present name. Hans Christian Ørsted was the first to isolate metallic aluminum in 1825.
35 Bromine 1825 1825 A.J.Balard,
A.J.Balard &
They both discovered the element in the Autumn of 1825, and published the results next year.
90 Thorium 1829 ? J.J.Berzelius ? Berzelius obtained the oxide of a new earth in thorite.
57 Lanthanum 1838 ? C.G.Mosander ? Mosander found a new element in samples of ceria and published his results in 1842, but later, he showed that this lanthana contained four more elements.
68 Erbium 1842 ? C.G.Mosander ? Mosander managed to split the old yttria into yttria proper and erbia, and later terbia too.
65 Terbium 1842 1842 C.G.Mosander C.G.Mosander In 1842 Mosander split yttria into two more earths, erbia and terbia
44 Ruthenium 1807 1807 J.Sniadecki J.Sniadecki Sniadecki isolated the element in 1807 but his work was not ratified. Gottfried Wilhelm Osann thought thought he found three new metals in Russian platinum samples, and in 1844, Karl Karlovich Klaus confirmed that there was a new element. The latter is usually recognized as the discoverer of the element.
55 Caesium 1860 1882 R.W.Bunsen &
C.Setterberg Bunsen and Kirchhoff were the first to suggest finding new elements by spectrum analysis. They discovered caesium by its two blue emission lines in a sample of Dürkheim mineral water. The pure metal was eventually isolated in 1962 by Setterberg.
37 Rubidium 1861 ? R.W.Bunsen &
Hevesy Bunsen and Kirchhoff discovered it just a few months after caesium, by observing new spectral lines in the mineral lepidolite. Bunsen never obtained a pure sample of the metal, which was later obtained by Hervesy.
81 Thallium 1861 1862 W.Crookes C.-A.Lamy Shortly after the discovery of rubidium, Crookes found a new green line in a selenium sample and later that year, Lamy found the element to be metallic.
49 Indium 1863 1867 F.Reich &
T.Richter Riach and Richter First identified it in sphalerite by its birght indigo-blue spectroscopic emission line. Richter isolated the metal several years later.
2 Helium 1868 1895 P.Janssen &
Janssen and Lockyer observed independently a yellow spectral line in the solar spectrum that did not match any other element. Years later, Ramsay, Cleve, and Langlet observed independently the element trapped in clevite about the same time.
Mendeleev arranges the 66 elements known at that time into the first modern periodic table and correctly predicts several others.
31 Gallium 1875 ? P.E.L.de
P.E.L.de Boisbaudran Boisbaudran observed on a Pyrenea blende sample some emission lines corresponding to the eka-aluminum that was predicted by Mendeleev in 1871 and subsequently isolated the element by electrolysis.
70 Ytterbium 1878 ? J.C.G. de
? In October 22, 1878, Marignac reported splitting terbia in two new earths, terbia proper and ytterbia.
67 Holmium 1878 ? M.Delafontaine ? Delafontaine found it in samarskite and next year, Per Teodor Cleve split Marignac's erbia into erbia proper and two new elements, thulium and holmium.
69 Thulium 1879 1879 P.T.Cleve P.T.Cleve Cleve split Marignac's erbia into erbia proper and two new elements, thulium and holmium.
21 Scandium 1879 1879 L.F.Nilson L.F.Nilson Nilson split Marignac's ytterbia into pure one and a new element that matched 1871 Mendeleev's predicted eka-boron.
62 Samarium 1879 1879 P.E.L. de
P.E.L. de
Boisbaudran noted a new earth in samarskite and named it after the mineral.
64 Gadolinium 1880 1886 J.C.G. de
F.L. de
Marignac initially observed the new earth in terbia and later, Boisbaudran obtained a pure sample from samarskite.
59 Praseodymium 1885 ? C.A.von Welsbach ? Von Welsbach discovered two new distinct elements in ceria: praseodymium and neodymium.
60 Neodymium 1885 ? C.A.von Welsbach ? Von Welsbach discovered two new distinct elements in ceria: praseodymium and neodymium.
66 Dysprosium 1886 ? P.E.L. de
? De Boisbaudran found a new earth in erbia.
32 Germanium 1886 ? C.A.Winkler ? In February 1886 Winkler found in argyrodite the eka-silicon that Mendeleev had predicted in 1871.
9 Fluorine 1886 1886 H.Moissan H.Moissan Lavoisier predicted an element obtained from hydrofluoric acid and between 1812 and 1886 many researchers tried to obtain this element. It was eventually isolated by Moissan.
18 Argon 1894 1894 Lord Rayleigh &
Lord Rayleigh &
They discovered the gas by comparing the molecular weights of nitrogen prepared by liquefaction from air and nitrogen prepared by chemical means. It is the first noble gas to be isolated.
36 Krypton 1898 1898 W.Ramsay &
W.Ramsay &
On May 30, 1898, Ramsay separated a third noble gas from liquid argon by difference in boiling point.
10 Neon 1898 1898 W.Ramsay &
W.Ramsay &
In June 1898 Ramsay separated a new noble gas from liquid argon by difference in boiling point.
54 Xenon 1898 1898 W.Ramsay &
W.Ramsay &
On July 12, 1898 Ramsay separated a third noble gas within three weeks, from liquid argon by difference in boiling point.
84 Polonium 1898 1902 P.Curie &
W.Marckwald In an experiment done on July 13, 1898, the Curies noted an increased radioactivity in the uranium obtained from pitchblende which they assigned to an unknown element.
88 Radium 1898 1902 P.Curie &
M. Curie The Curies reported on December 26, 1898, a new element different from polonium, which Marie later isolated from uraninite.
86 Radon 1898 1910 F.E.Dorn W.Ramsay &
Dorn discovered a radioactive gas resulting from the radioactive decay of radium, isolated later by Ramsay and Gray.
89 Actinium 1899 1899 A.-L.Debierne A.-L.Debierne Debierne obtained from pitchblende a substance that had similar properties to thorium.
63 Europium 1896 1901 E.Demarcay E.Demarcay Demarçay found spectral lines of a new element in Lecoq's samarium, and separated this element several years later.
71 Lutetium 1906 1906 G.Urbain,
C.A. von
G. Urbain &
C.A. von Welsbach
Urbain and von Welsbach proved independently that the old ytterbium did also contain a new element.
75 Rhenium 1908 1908 M.Ogawa M.Ogawa Ogawa found it in thorianite but assigned it is element 43 instead of 75 and named it nipponium. In 1922 Walter Noddack, Ida Eva Tacke and Otto Berg announced its separation from gadolinite and gave it the present name.
72 Hafnium 1911 1922 G.Urbain,
D.Coster &
G. von
Urbain claimed to have found the element in rare-earth residues, while Vernadskij independently found it in orthite. Neither clamis were confirmed due to the War. After it, Coster and Hevesy found it by X-ray spectroscopic analysis in Norwegian zircon. It is the last stable element to be discovered.
91 Protactinium 1913 ? O.H.Göhring,
? The two obtained the first isotope of this element that had been predicted by Mendeleev in 1871 as a member of the natural decay of 238U. Originally isolated in 1900 by William Crookes.
43 Technetium 1937 1937 C.Perrier,
C.Perrier & E.Segrè The two discovered a new element in a molybdenum that was used in a cyclotrone, the first synthetic element to be discovered. It had been predicted by Mendeleev in 1871 as eka-manganese.
87 Francium 1939 1939 M.Perey M.Perey Perey discovered it as a decay product of 227Ac. Francium is the last element to be discovered in nature, rather than synthesized in the lab, although some of the "synthetic" elements that were discovered later (plutonium, neptunium, astatine) were eventually found in trace amounts in nature as well.
85 Astatine 1940 ? D.R.Corson,
? Obtained by bombarding bismuth with alpha particles. Later determined to occur naturally in minuscule quantitites (<25 grams in earth's crust).
93 Neptunium 1940 ? E.M. McMillan,
? Obtained by irradiating uranium with neutrons, it is the first transuranium element discovered.
94 Plutonium 1940-1 ? G.T.Seaborg,
Arthur C. Wahl,
? Prepared by bombardment of uranium with deuterons.
95 Americium 1944 ? G.T.Seaborg,
L.O.Morgan &
? Prepared by irradiating plutonium with neutrons during the Manhattan Project.
96 Curium 1944 ? G.T.Seaborg,
? Prepared by bombarding plutonium with alpha particles during the Manhattan Project
61 Promethium 1942 1945 C.S.Wu,
Charles D. Coryell, Jacob A. Marinsky, Lawrence E. Glendenin, Harold G. Richter It was probably first prepared in 1942 by bombarding neodymium and praseodymium with neutrons, but separation of the element could not be carried out. Isolation was performed under the Manhattan Project in 1945.
97 Berkelium 1949 ? S.G.Thompson,
? Created by bombardment of americium with alpha particles.
98 Californium 1950 ? S.G.Thompson,
? Bombardment of curium with alpha particles.
99 Einsteinium 1952 1952 A.Ghiorso
et. al (Argonne Laboratory, Los Alamos Laboratory, and University of California)
Formed in the first thermonuclear explosion in November 1952, by irradiation of uranium with neutronsand kept secret for several years.
100 Fermium 1952 ? A.Ghiorso
et. al (Argonne Laboratory, Los Alamos Laboratory, and University of California)
Formed in the first thermonuclear explosion in November 1952, by irradiation of uranium with neutrons and kept secret for several years.
101 Mendelevium 1955 ? A.Ghiorso,
? Prepared by bombardment of einsteinium with helium.
102 Nobelium 1958 ? A.Ghiorso,
? First prepared by bombardment of curium with carbon atoms.
103 Lawrencium 1961 ? A.Ghiorso,
? First prepared by bombardment of californium with boron atoms.
104 Rutherfordium 1964 ? G.N.Flerov
et. al at JINR in Dubna
? Prepared by bombardment of plutonium with neon atoms.
105 Dubnium 1968 ? G.N.Flerov
et. al at JINR in Dubna
? By bombardment of americium with neon atoms.
106 Seaborgium 1974 ? A.Ghiorso
et. al in University of California, Berkeley
? Collisions of californium-249 with oxygen atoms.
107 Bohrium 1981 ? G.Münzenberg
et. al GSI in Darmstadt
? Obtained by bombarding bismuth with chromium.
109 Meitnerium 1982 ? G.Münzenberg,
et. al GSI in Darmstadt
? Bombardment of bismuth with iron atoms.
108 Hassium 1984 ? G.Münzenberg,
et. al at GSI in Darmstadt
? Bombardment of lead with iron atoms
110 Darmstadtium 1994 ? S.Hofmann
et al at GSI in Darmstadt
? Bombardment of lead with nickel.
111 Roentgenium 1994 ? S.Hofmann
et al at GSI in Darmstadt
? Bombardment of bismuth with nickel.

Unconfirmed discoveries

112 Ununbium 1996 S. Hofmann, V. Ninov et al, GSI
114 Ununquadium 1999 Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna
116 Ununhexium 2000 Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna
118 Ununoctium 2002 Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
113 Ununtrium 2003 Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
115 Ununpentium 2003 Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
122 Unbibium 2008 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Disputed claim: A group led by Amnon Marinov at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem claims to have found single atoms of unbibium in naturally occurring thorium deposits at a concentration of between 10-11 and 10-12. If this is accurate, unbibium would be the first naturally occurring element to be discovered in nature since Francium.

See also


External links

Search another word or see Karl Karlovich Klauson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature