Martin Heinrich Klaproth was a German chemist in the late 18th and early 19th centuries who is credited with the discovery of the elements uranium and zirconium in 1789 and cerium in 1803. He made substantial contributions to the fields of mineralogy and analytical chemistry.Continue Reading
Martin Heinrich Klaproth was born on Dec. 1, 1743, in Wernigerode and died on Jan. 1, 1817, in Berlin. He began his career as an apothecary and worked as an assistant at numerous pharmacies in Germany. He studied chemistry and was offered a position as a chemistry lecturer in 1787 for the Prussian Royal Artillery. In 1810, after the founding of the University of Berlin, Klaproth became the establishment's first professor of chemistry. He published over 200 papers in his lifetime and was given the honor of being a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1804.
In addition to the discovery of three elements, Klaproth was almost credited with the discovery of a fourth element, titanium. Instead, chemist William Gregor won the title of discoverer of titanium after he successfully isolated the element.
Klaproth also conducted the foundational work in establishing the molecular composition of several other metals, which were isolated at a later date. These metals include strontium, tellurium and chromium.Learn more about Chemistry