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Raoult, François Marie

method solution solvent dissolved

[rah-oo] (1830–1901) French physical chemist: pioneer of solution chemistry.

Little is known of Raoult’s early life, but his family was poor and although he began to study in Paris he could not afford to complete his course. He worked as a teacher, and began his research in physical chemistry in difficult circumstances, but this allowed him to gain a degree from Paris, in 1863. From 1867 he taught in the university at Grenoble. In the 1870s he tried to devise a new method for finding the alcohol content of wine, and this led him to study the freezing points of solutions of organic substances. He found that the depression of freezing point of a solution (compared with that of a pure solvent) was simply related to the quantity of dissolved solute and to its relative molecular mass (Raoult’s Law, 1882). A few years later he showed a similar relation for the effect of a dissolved solute on the vapour pressure of a solution, and therefore on the elevation of its boiling point. In 1889 showed that this elevation of boiling point, for a measured amount of substance in a suitable solvent, is a very convenient method for measuring the relative molecular mass of the substance; the method has been in routine use ever since.

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