The Discoverers of the Elements

1A 2A 3A 4A 5A 6A 7A 8A
(1) (2) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18)
3B 4B 5B 6B 7B 8B 1B 2B
(3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12)
1 H He
2 Li Be B C N O F Ne
3 Na Mg Al Si P S Cl Ar
4 K Ca Sc Ti V Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn Ga Ge As Se Br Kr
5 Rb Sr Y Zr Nb Mo Tc Ru Rh Pd Ag Cd In Sn Sb Te I Xe
6 Cs Ba La   Hf Ta W Re Os Ir Pt Au Hg Tl Pb Bi Po At Rn
7 Fr Ra Ac   Rf Db Sg Bh Hs Mt Ds Rg Uub Uuq
6   Ce Pr Nd Pm Sm Eu Gd Tb Dy Ho Er Tm Yb Lu
7   Th Pa U Np Pu Am Cm Bk Cf Es Fm Md No Lr

 

Discoverers of the Naturally-Occurring Elements

Atomic
Number

Symbol

Name

Discoverer

City and Country

Year

79 Au Gold Known since ancient times    
47 Ag Silver Known since ancient times    
29 Cu Copper Known since ancient times    
80 Hg Mercury Known since ancient times    
82 Pb Lead Known since ancient times    
26 Fe Iron Known since ancient times    
50 Sn Tin Known since ancient times    
16 S Sulfur Known since ancient times    
6 C Carbon Known since ancient times    
51 Sb Antimony Known since ancient times in the form of antimony sulfide (stibium, Sb2S3); it is not certain when metallic antimony was first prepared, but it was known to the alchemists in the Middle Ages    
33 As Arsenic Known since ancient times in the mineral orpiment (arsenic sulfide, As2S3); first isolated as an element by the alchemist Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great)   1250
30 Zn Zinc Known since ancient times in various ores and alloys; isolated as a pure metal in the 1500s   1500s
83 Bi Bismuth Discovered in the 1400s, but often confused with tin and lead (Claude François Geoffroy showed in 1753 that this metal is a distinct element)   1400s
15 P Phosphorus Hennig Brandt Hamburg, Germany 1669
27 Co Cobalt Georg Brandt Stockholm, Sweden 1735
78 Pt Platinum Known to the pre-Columbian South Americans; first reported in Europe by Don Antonio de Ulloa in 1735 South America 1735
28 Ni Nickel Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt Stockholm, Sweden 1751
12 Mg Magnesium Joseph Black; first isolated in the metallic form by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1808 Edinburgh, Scotland 1755
1 H Hydrogen Henry Cavendish

Hydrogen had been produced earlier by Theophratus Bombastus von Hohenheim (Paracelsus) and later by Robert Boyle, but Cavendish was the first to recognize it as being an element) [see entry on Oxygen].  The name "hydrogen" was given by Antoine Lavoisier in 1789, in recognition of the fact that it burned to make water (hydro + genes = "water forming").

London, England 1766
7 N Nitrogen Daniel Rutherford

Rutherford referred to the gas as "noxious air" or "fixed air."  It was also investigated by Scheele, Cavendish, and Priestly, who referred to it as "phlogisticated air."  When Lavoisier correctly interpreted the process of combustion (see entry for Oxygen), nitrogen was recognized as a pure elemental substance.

Edinburgh, Scotland 1772
8 O Oxygen Joseph Priestly (independently by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in Uppsala, Sweden, probably before 1773) [Priestly's results were published first, so he is usually given credit for the discovery.]

The discovery of oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen is a very tangled story, because it is mixed up with the now-defunct phlogiston theory of combustion.  The theory was proposed by  Johann Joachim Becher in 1667, and extended by Georg Ernst Stahl in the early 1700s, and was the first attempt by chemists to try to make since of combustion, repiration, and calxing of metals (now known as oxidation).  In this theory, phlogiston was released when a substance burned or when respiration occurred in living organisms, or when metals rusted.  When nitrogen was discovered, it was believed to be "phlogisticated air," which would not support combustion because it had already absorbed the maximum possible amount of phlogiston. Scheele and Priestly independently discovered a gas (later called oxygen) that supported combustion much more readily than normal air, which was referred to as "dephlogisticated air" because it was able to pull phlogiston out of other substances.  Hydrogen was thought to be phlogiston itself, or "inflammable air."  There were a number of problems with the phlogiston theory, however, not least of which was the fact that while wood and other organic compounds lost mass then burned (i.e., when phlogiston was lost), metals gained weight when phlogiston was lost to form calxes (oxides), which meant that phlogiston would either have to have "negative weight" or be extremely buoyant.

Antoine Lavoisier (Paris, France) reinterpreted the results of these experiments by realizing that combustion, respiration, and rusting all involved the combination of substances with oxygen.  Lavoisier named the gas "oxygen" from the Latin words for "acid forming" (oxy + genes), because he believed it to be an essential component of all acids (although this later turned out not to be the case).]

Leeds, England 1774
17 Cl Chlorine Carl Wilhelm Scheele Uppsala, Sweden 1774
25 Mn Manganese Johan Gottlieb Gahn Stockholm, Sweden 1774
24 Cr Chromium Nicholas Louis Vauquelin Paris, France 1780
42 Mo Molybdenum Peter J. Hjelm Uppsala, Sweden 1781
52 Te Tellurium Baron Franz Joseph Müller von Reichenstein Sibiu, Romania 1783
74 W Tungsten José and Fausto Elhuijar Vergara, Spain 1783
92 U Uranium Martin Heinrich Klaproth Berlin, Germany 1789
40 Zr Zirconium Martin Heinrich Klaproth; first isolated as a pure metal by Jöns Jakob Berzelius (1824) Berlin, Germany (University of Berlin) 1789
38 Sr Strontium Adair Crawford; first isolated as a pure metal by Sir Humphrey Davy (1808)  Edinburgh, Scotland 1790
22 Ti Titanium William Gregor; first isolated as a pure metal by Lars Fredrick Nilson (1887) Creed, Cornwall, England 1791
39 Y Yttrium Johan Gadolin Abo, Finland 1794
4 Be Beryllium Nicholas Louis Vauquelin; first isolated as a pure metal by Friedrich Wöhler and Antoine A. Bussy (independently) in 1828 Paris, France 1797
41 Nb Niobium Charles Hatchett

Hatchett's name for the element was "columbium" (Cb), but he was not able to isolate the pure metal, and his claim was disputed, because of the element's close similarity to tantalum.  Heinrich Rose and Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac "rediscovered" the element in 1846, and named it "niobium."  The IUPAC accepted "niobium" as the official name in 1950, but the element is still referred to as "columbium" by some metallurgists and metal-supply companies.

London, England 1801
23 V Vanadium Andrés Manuel del Río

del Río's notes of his research were lost in a shipwreck, and many European chemists thought that the metal he had found was just another sample of chromium.  When the metal was "rediscovered "by Nils Gabriel Sefström (Falun, Sweden, 1831), Friedrich Wöhler concluded that del Río's original finding had been correct.

Mexico City, Mexico 1801
73 Ta Tantalum Anders Ekeberg Uppsala, Sweden 1802
58 Ce Cerium Jöns Jakob Berzelius and Wilhelm von Hisinger; first isolated as a pure metal by William F. Hillebrand and Thomas H. Norton in 1875 Vestmanland, Sweden 1803
77 Ir Iridium Smithson Tennant London, England 1803
76 Os Osmium Smithson Tennant and William Hyde Wollaston London, England 1803
46 Pd Palladium William Hyde Wollaston London, England 1803
45 Rh Rhodium William Hyde Wollaston London, England 1803
11 Na Sodium Sir Humphrey Davy London, England 1807
19 K Potassium Sir Humphrey Davy London, England 1807
20 Ca Calcium Sir Humphrey Davy London, England 1808
56 Ba Barium Sir Humphrey Davy London, England 1808
5 B Boron Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis Jacques Thénard (Paris); Sir Humphrey Davy (London) [independently] London, England and Paris, France 1808
44 Ru Ruthenium Jędrzej Śniadecki (Poland, University of Vilno, 1808), however his findings could not be confirmed at the time; the metal was "rediscovered" by Gottfried W. Osann (University of Tartu, Russia) in 1828, and was first isolated as a pure metal by Karl Klaus (Russia) in 1844 Poland, University of Vilno 1808
53 I Iodine Bernard Courtois Dijon, France 1811
48 Cd Cadmium Friedrich Strohmeyer Göttingen, Germany 1817
3 Li Lithium Johan August Arfvedson; first isolated as a pure metal by Robert Bunsen and Augustus Mathhiesen in 1855 Stockholm, Sweden 1817
34 Se Selenium Jöns Jakob Berzelius Stockholm, Sweden 1817
14 Si Silicon Jöns Jakob Berzelius Stockholm, Sweden 1824
13 Al Aluminum Hans Christian Ørsted Copenhagen, Denmark 1825
35 Br Bromine Antoine J. Balard (France); C. Löwig (Germany) Montpellier, France; Heidelberg, Germany 1826
90 Th Thorium Jöns Jakob Berzelius Stockholm, Sweden 1829
57 La Lanthanum Carl Gustav Mosander Stockholm, Sweden 1839
68 Er Erbium Carl Gustaf Mosander Stockholm, Sweden 1842
65 Tb Terbium Carl Gustaf Mosander Stockholm, Sweden 1843
55 Cs Cesium Robert Bunsen and Gustav R. Kirchhoff Heidelberg, Germany (University of Heidelberg) 1860
37 Rb Rubidium Robert Bunsen and Gustav R. Kirchhoff Heidelberg, Germany (University of Heidelberg) 1861
81 Tl Thallium William Crookes London, England 1861
49 In Indium Ferdinand Reich and Hieronymous Richter Freiberg, Germany 1863
2 He Helium Pierre Janssen (the yellow spectral line due to this element was found by Janssen during a solar eclipse he observed from India); Norman Lockyer and Edward Frankland The Sun 1868
31 Ga Gallium Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran Paris, France 1875
67 Ho Holmium Marc Delafontaine and Jacques-Louis Soret (Switzerland); Per Teodor Cleve (Sweden) Geneva, Switzerland; Uppsala, Sweden 1878
70 Yb Ytterbium Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac Geneva, Switzerland 1878
62 Sm Samarium Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran Paris, France 1879
21 Sc Scandium Lars Fredrick Nilson Uppsala, Sweden 1879
69 Tm Thulium Per Teodor Cleve Uppsala, Sweden 1879
64 Gd Gadolinium Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac Geneva, Switzerland 1880
59 Pr Praseodymium Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach (see entry below on Neodymium) Vienna, Austria 1885
60 Nd Neodymium Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach

The elements praseodymium and neodymium were originally found by Carl Gustav Mosander in 1841 as a mixture of the two elements; because the new substance was so chemically similar to lanthanum, he called it "didymium" because it was a "twin" of lanthanum, which he had discovered in 1839.  In 1882, Bohuslav Brauner, using atomic spectroscopy, showed that "didymium" was a mixture of two elements.  The elements were finally separated by von Welsbach in 1885, and rechristened as "praseodymium" ("green twin") and neodymium ("new twin").

Vienna, Austria 1885
66 Dy Dysprosium Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran Paris, France 1886
9 F Fluorine Henri Moissan Paris, France 1886
32 Ge Germanium Clemens A. Winkler Freiberg, Germany 1886
18 Ar Argon John William Strutt (3rd Baron Rayleigh) and Sir William Ramsay

Argon had been observed by Henry Cavendish in 1785, but had not recognized it as a new element.

London, England 1894
36 Kr Krypton Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers London, England 1898
10 Ne Neon Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers London, England 1898
88 Ra Radium Pierre and Marie Curie Paris, France 1898
84 Po Polonium Marie Curie Paris, France 1898
54 Xe Xenon Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers London, England 1898
89 Ac Actinium André-Louis Debierne Paris, France 1899
86 Rn Radon Friederich Ernst Dorn Halle, Germany 1900
63 Eu Europium Eugène-Antole Demarçay Paris, France 1901
71 Lu Lutetium Georges Urbain (France); Charles James (USA, University of New Hampshire) Paris, France; Durham, New Hampshire, USA 1907
91 Pa Protactinium Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner (Germany, 1918); Kasimir Fajans and O. H. Göhring (Pa-234, Germany, 1913); Frederick Soddy, John Cranston, and Alexander Fleck (Pa-231, UK, 1917) Germany; United Kingdom 1913
72 Hf Hafnium Dirk Coster and Georg von Hevesey Copenhagen, Denmark 1923
75 Re Rhenium Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke, and Otto Berg Berlin, Germany 1925

 

 

Discoverers of the Artificially Produced Elements

Atomic
Number
Symbol Name Discoverer City and Country Institution Method of Production Year
43 Tc Technetium Carlo Perrier and Emilio Segrè Palermo, Sicily University of Palermo bombardment of molybdenum with deuterium 1937
87 Fr Francium Marguerite Perey Paris, France Curie Institute alpha-decay product of actinium 1939
85 At Astatine Dale R. Corson, K. R. MacKenzie, and Emilio Segrè Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of bismuth with alpha particles 1940
93 Np Neptunium Edwin M. McMillan and Philip H. Abelson Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of U-238 with neutrons 1940
94 Pu Plutonium Glenn T. Seaborg, Arthur C. Wahl, and Joseph W. Kennedy Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of uranium with deuterium 1940
95 Am Americium Glenn T. Seaborg, Ralph A. James, Leon O. Morgan, and Albert Ghiorso Chicago, Illinois, USA University of Chicago bombardment of Pu-240 with neutrons 1944
96 Cm Curium Glenn T. Seaborg, Ralph A. James, and Albert Ghiorso Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of Pu-239 with alpha-particles 1944
61 Pm Promethium Jacob A. Marinsky, Lawrence E. Glendenin and Charles D. Coryell Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA Oak Ridge National Laboratory fission product of uranium 1945
97 Bk Berkelium Stanley G. Thompson, Albert Ghiorso, and Glenn T. Seaborg Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of americium-241 with alpha particles 1949
98 Cf Californium Stanley G. Thompson, Kenneth Street, Jr., Albert Ghiorso, and Glenn T. Seaborg Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of Cm-242 with alpha-particles 1950
99 Es Einsteinium Gregory R. Choppin, Stanley G. Thompson, Albert Ghiorso, and Bernard G. Harvey Berkeley (CA), Los Alamos (NM), USA University of California / Los Alamos National Laboratory first isolated from the residue of the "Mike" hydrogen bomb test on Elugelab Island (Marshall Islands) 1952
100 Fm Fermium Gregory R. Choppin, Stanley G. Thompson, Albert Ghiorso, and Bernard G. Harvey Berkeley (CA), Los Alamos (NM), USA University of California / Los Alamos National Laboratory first isolated from the residue of the "Mike" hydrogen bomb test on Elugelab Island (Marshall Islands) 1952
101 Md Mendelevium Albert Ghiorso, Bernard G. Harvey, Greogory R. Chopin, Stanley G. Thompson, and Glenn T. Seaborg Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of Es-253 with alpha-particles 1955
102 No Nobelium Albert Ghiorso, Torbjorn Sikkeland, John R. Walton, and Glenn T. Seaborg Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of Cm-246 with C-12 1958
103 Lr Lawrencium Albert Ghiorso, Torbjorn Sikkeland, Almon Larsh, and Robert M. Latimer Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of Cf-250 with B-10 1961
104 Rf Rutherfordium Credit shared by researchers at the JINR and Albert Ghiorso, et. al. (UC Berkeley) Dubna, Russia; Berkeley (CA), USA JINR; University of California bombardment of Cf-249 with C-12, or Cm-248 with O-18 1964
105 Db Dubnium Credit shared by researchers at the JINR and Albert Ghiorso, et. al. (UC Berkeley) Dubna, Russia; Berkeley (CA), USA JINR; University of California bombardment of Cf-249 with N-15, or Bk-249 with O-18 1967
106 Sg Seaborgium Albert Ghiorso, et. al. Berkeley, California, USA University of California bombardment of Cf-249 with O-18 1974
107 Bh Bohrium Peter Armbruster, Gottfried Münzenberg, et. al. Darmstadt, Germany GSI cold fusion of Bi-209 and Cr-54 1981
109 Mt Meitnerium Peter Armbruster, Gottfried Münzenberg, et. al. Darmstadt, Germany GSI cold fusion of Bi-209 and Fe-58 1982
108 Hs Hassium Peter Armbruster, Gottfried Münzenberg, et. al. Darmstadt, Germany GSI cold fusion of Pb-208 and Fe-58 1984
110 Ds Darmstadtium Jorge Rigol, et. al. Darmstadt, Germany GSI bombardment of lead-208 with nickel-62 1994
111 Rs Roentgenium Peter Armbruster, Gottfried Münzenberg, et. al. Darmstadt, Germany GSI fusion of bismuth-209 and nickel-64 1994
114 Uuq Ununquadium   Dubna, Russia JINR bombardment of plutonium-244 with calcium-48 1998
112 Uub Ununbiium   Darmstadt, Germany GSI fusion of zinc-?? with lead-?? 2000

JINR = Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia

GSI = Institute for Heavy Ion Research (Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung) in Darmstadt, Germany

 

 

References

John Emsley, The Elements, 3rd edition.  Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1998.

John Emsley, Nature's Building Blocks:  An A-Z Guide to the Elements.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2001.

James L. Marshall, Discovery of the Elements, 2nd ed.  Boston:  Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002.