Google Doodle Remembers British Chemist Sir William Henry Perkin

Google Doodle Remembers British Chemist Sir William Henry Perkin

Sir William Henry Perkin is known for his contribution to the pharmaceutical and chemical industries but he discovered the synthetic dye when he was just 18.

However, the discovery may well be termed accidental and justifies the words of famed scientist Louis Pasteur: "Chance favours only the prepared mind".

The chemist was honored Monday with a Google Doodle on the homepage of the search engine.

Perkin's first assignment, given to him by his superiors at the university, was to help discover how to synthesise quinine to combat malaria.

Sir William Perkin was born in the East End to a carpenter father and Scottish mother, and he was the youngest of seven children. When Sir William Henry Perkin was 18 years old and worked as a laboratory assistant, he was cleaning out dark muck from a beaker after a failed experiment.

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After further examination, Perkin added potassium dichromate and alcohol into the aniline in various stages, which resulted in a deep purple solution. Moreover, at that time, all dyes for colouring cloth were extracts of natural products, and many of them were expensive and labour-intensive to produce.

Perkin's "strong and inexpensively produced mauveine" made the colour more accessible, and therefore more popular, and even Queen Victoria work a mauveine dress to an event in 1862. He named it "mauveine" and focused on patenting, manufacturing and commercializing it as an exclusive clothing dye.

Wealthy and successful from his stint in manufacturing, Perkin eventually returned to laboratory research.

Perkins' discovery of strong and low-cost purple dye sparked a violet fashion frenzy - as illustrated in today's Google Doodle created by the artist Sonny Ross.

The Perkin Medal was established in 1906 to honour the 50th anniversary of the discovery of mauvine.