Thomas Graham

Picture of Thomas Graham

Date of Birth: 12/20/1805

Age: 63

Place of birth: Glasgow

Citizenship: United Kingdom


Born December 20, 1805 in Glasgow merchant family. In 1819 at the insistence of his father he went to the University of Glasgow in the theological faculty. But theology is of little interest to Graham; he became interested in chemistry, attended lectures on this subject, read a lot, and in 1824 received a Master of Arts degree. For four years he worked in the University of Edinburgh at the Department of Chemistry. In 1828 he returned to Glasgow, gave lessons in chemistry and mathematics. In 1830 he became a professor of chemistry at Anderson University in Glasgow, in 1837 - professor of chemistry at University College in London. In the same year he was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1842 - the president of the newly created British Chemical Society. From 1855 until the end of his life he worked in the laboratory of the Mint.

Graham works devoted to the diffusion of gases and liquids, colloid chemistry, the chemistry of polybasic acids. The first studies were carried out by him in the University of Edinburgh and concerned the absorption of gases by liquids. Investigating diffusion of gases through the porous walls, Graham in 1831 formulated the law: the rate of diffusion of gases is inversely proportional to the square root of its density. Parallel Graham investigated the oxidation of phosphorus and found that the process is slowed down in the presence of trace amounts of certain gases. This discovery was of great scientific importance, as it became the first example of "negative catalysis", which did not even have names: the term "catalysis" was introduced five years later Berzelius. Exploring the conditions for obtaining phosphates, Graham identified a new type of phosphoric acid, which he called a meta-phosphate. Work Graham, dedicated to the ortho, meta and pyrophosphate, published in 1833, it has forced to reconsider the hydrogen theory of acids proposed G. Davey, and laid the foundations of the theory of polybasic acids. Common method of research on liquid gases, including solutions, Graham opened the osmotic effect (though osmosis laws were formulated 20 years Pfeffer). Graham`s idea of ??separation of substances on crystalloids and colloids. The first form stable solutions and crystallize, the latter gives unstable solutions and easy to coagulate to form a gelatinous precipitate. This work laid the foundations of colloid chemistry. Continuing studies of gases, Graham at the end of the 1860s discovered the phenomenon of occlusion - the absorption of gases microscopic cavities in the metal. It was the last work of Graham. Graham died in London on September 11, 1869.