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Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

German chemist
Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German chemist
A.K.A. Friedrich Ferdinand Runge
Was Chemist Professor Educator
From Germany
Type Academia Science
Gender male
Birth 8 February 1794, Billwerder, Bergedorf, Hamburg, Germany
Death 25 March 1867, Oranienburg, Oberhavel District, Brandenburg, Germany (aged 73 years)
Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge
The details (from wikipedia)


Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge (8 February 1794 – 25 March 1867) was a German analytical chemist. Runge identified the mydriatic (pupil dilating) effects of belladonna (deadly nightshade) extract, identified caffeine, and discovered the first coal tar dye (aniline blue).

Early life

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was born near Hamburg on 8 February 1794. From a young age, Runge conducted chemical experiments, serendipitously identifying the mydriatic (pupil dilating) effects of belladonna (deadly nightshade) extract.


In 1819, Runge was invited to show Goethe how belladonna caused dilation of the pupil, which Runge did, using a cat as an experimental subject. Goethe was so impressed with the demonstration that

"Nachdem Goethe mir seine größte Zufriedenheit sowol über die Erzählung des durch scheinbaren schwarzen Staar Geretteten, wie auch über das andere ausgesprochen, übergab er mir noch eine Schachtel mit Kaffeebohnen, die ein Grieche ihm als etwas Vorzügliches gesandt. "Auch diese können sie zu Ihren Untersuchungen brauchen," sagte Goethe. Er hatte recht; denn bald darauf entdeckte ich darin das, wegen seines großen Stickstoffgehaltes so berühmt gewordene Coffein."
"After Goethe had expressed to me his greatest satisfaction regarding the account of the man whom I'd rescued [from serving in Napoleon's army] by apparent "black star" [i.e., amaurosis, blindness] as well as the other, he handed me a carton of coffee beans, which a Greek had sent him as a delicacy. "You can also use these in your investigations," said Goethe. He was right; for soon thereafter I discovered therein caffeine, which became so famous on account of its high nitrogen content."

A few months later, Runge identified caffeine.

Runge studied chemistry in Jena and Berlin, where he obtained his doctorate. After touring Europe for three years, he taught chemistry at the University of Breslau until 1831. From then until 1852 he worked for a chemical company, but was dismissed by a resentful manager and died fifteen years later in poverty, in Oranienburg.


His chemical work included purine chemistry, the identification of caffeine, the discovery of the first coal tar dye (aniline blue), (Runge called aniline blue "Kyanol" (blue-oil)) coal tar products (and a large number of substances that derive from coal tar), paper chromatography, pyrrole, chinoline, phenol, thymol and atropine. Runge placed drops of reactant solutions on blotting paper and then added a drop of a second reactant solution on top of the first drop. The solutions would react as they spread through the blotting paper, often producing colored patterns. His results were published in two books, Farbenchemie. Musterbilder für Freunde des Schönen und zum Gebrauch für Zeichner, Maler, Verzierer und Zeugdrucker, dargestellt durch chemische Wechselwirkung and Der Bildungstrieb der Stoffe, veranschaulicht in selbstständig gewachsenen Bilder.

In 1855, he was the first to notice the phenomenon of Liesegang rings, observing them in the course of experiments on the precipitation of reagents in blotting paper.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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