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HENRI MOISSAN (1852-1907)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 651 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HENRI MOISSAN (1852-1907), French chemist, was born at Paris on the 28th of September 1852. Educated at the Museum of Natural History, he was successively professor of toxicology (r886) and of inorganic chemistry (1889) at the School of Pharmacy, and of general chemistry at the Sorbonne (1900). In 1886 he succeeded in obtaining the element fluorine in the free state by the electrolysis of potassium fluoride and anhydrous hydrofluoric acid at a low temperature. Thence he was led to study the production of carbon in its three varieties and to attempt the artificial preparation of diamond, of which he was able to make some minute specimens (see GEMS, ยง Artificial). In connexion with these experiments he developed the electric furnace as a convenient means of obtaining very high temperatures in the laboratory; and by its aid he prepared many new compounds, especially carbides, silicides and borides, and melted and volatilized substances which had previously been regarded as infusible. For his preparation of fluorine he wasawarded the Lacase prize in 1887, and in 1906 he obtained the Nobel prize for chemistry. He died in Paris on the 20th of February 1907. His published works include Le four electrique (1897), and Le fluor et ses composes (1900), besides 'numerous papers in the Comptes rendus and other scientific periodicals. A Traite de chimie minerale in five volumes was published under his direction in 1904-1906.
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