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Stock, Alfred

boron methods hydrides mercury

[shtok] (1876–1946) German inorganic chemist: a pioneer of silicon hydride and boron hydride chemistry and of vacuum handling methods.

After graduating in Germany, Stock went to Paris in 1899 to join research group. They were a happy international team, although ‘one was constantly in danger of losing one’s life’. Later, as professor in Breslau, he began work in 1909 on the dangerously explosive boron hydrides; in this work he developed the vacuum-line methods so much used for volatile materials by later inorganic chemists. His work on the boron hydrides led to later work on their strange, electron-deficient structures and to their use as rocket propellants.

Stock became a victim of mercury vapour poisoning; he was not the first chemist to suffer this, but he was unusual in being aware of the cause of his illness, and from 1923 he worked on mercury poisoning and methods of avoiding it. He also devised a method for making beryllium which is used commercially; and the use of P4S3 in place of phosphorus in match heads is also due to him.

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