Sir William Henry Perkin : The Google Doodle on Monday featured a British chemist who was the mind behind the discovery of first synthetic dye known as mauveine. Google dedicated the Doodle on Sir William Henry Perkin’s 180th birth anniversary.
Sir William Henry Perkin History
Perkin was born on 12th March 1838 in London. He accidentally discovered the aniline purple dye while studying at the Royal College of Chemistry, London. He was a student of a revered German chemist Wilhelm von Hofmann.
The official Google Doodle page cited, “Perkin was cleaning out dark muck from a beaker after a failed experiment, when he noticed that the substance left a vivid purple stain when diluted with alcohol”.
At the time of the discovery, Perkin was trying to find an alternative for quinine, which was the only viable medical treatment for malaria back in 1856 and the demand of whose was exceeding the supply. His attempt to make quinine from aniline was, however, unsuccessful but the experiment resulted in a dark substance. Sir William Henry Perkin further probed, adding more potassium dichromate and alcohol into the aniline which resulted into a deep purple solution. Upon making the dye, he figured that the solution can be used to colour fabric. He was even quick to recognise the commercial possibility of the dye which was originally named as Tyrian Purple.
The doodle was deep in purple, capturing the violent frenzied fashion trends of that era, all hails to Perkin’s discovery that made the expensive colour easily available to the people. Purple clothing was in demand at that time, but was only available to a certain section who could afford it. Even Queen Victoria is said to have worn a gown dyed in mauveine to the Royal Exhibition of 1862. Perkin was also knighted on the 50th anniversary of the discovery. He did not stop after this invention, and continued to find another aniline dye colours and synthetic scents afterwards.