Jöns Jacob Berzelius was a leading organic chemist, born in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 20, 1779.
He was one of the founders of modern chemistry and introduced new fundamental concepts.
He was a doctor, teacher, pharmacist and botanist. He was the son of a Lutheran pastor and principal of a primary school. When Berzelius was 4 years old, his father passed away. Later his mother married another Lutheran pastor. After his mother's death, he went to live with an uncle. Had a very poor childhood and adolescence.
In 1797 he passed an exam to study medicine at Uppsala University. For financial reasons, he interrupted his studies and became interested in chemistry. He was a follower of Lavoisier's ideas, and his interest in chemistry led him to look for Johan Afzelius, who later advised him on his doctoral dissertation.
As there was little knowledge in chemistry, at the time the professor did not let Berzelius work in the laboratory. He then rented a room with a fireplace near the University and improvised a laboratory there.
Graduated in Medicine in 1799. Doctorate in Medicine in 1802.
He later studied electrochemistry. Berzelius faced some financial problems. He associated himself with a wealthy businessman and studied the electric current. His works were not recognized by the scientific community of the time.
In 1806 he was an exhibitor of chemistry at the Royal War Academy. He was a professor of medicine and pharmacy.
At 53, he retired and devoted himself entirely to chemistry. He began his studies of gravimetry and stoichiometry.
With the help of the government, he set up a laboratory and hired a helper for his research. Analyzed more than 2,000 compounds, determined atomic weights, discovered new elements such as selenium, thorium, barium, silicon, cesium and others. His works were published in 1812. He studied dualistic theory of chemical affinity, organized the names and symbols of various chemical elements. Developed methods of gravimetric and instrumental analysis. He has published several works on the subject.
It introduced concepts of chemical catalysis, isomerism, allotropy, halogens and organic radicals. He classified some minerals.
Berzelius drew attention to the German community and many scientists of the time went to work in his laboratory, including Friedrich Wöhler.
Because of wear and tear, because he worked hard, he traveled for a year in Europe. When he returned, he was elected permanent secretary of the Stockholm Academy of Sciences.
He married in 1835 to Elisabeti Johanna, 32 years younger. They had no children.
Berzelius died on August 7, 1835.