Google Doodle Remembers British Chemist Sir William Henry Perkin


On March 12, Google honoured Sir William Henry Perkin with a doodle on his 180 birthday. In 1856, Perkin started experimenting in synthesising quinine used for the treatment of malaria.

Perkin discovered the aniline purple dye under the guidance of German chemist August Von Hofmann, while studying at the Royal College of Chemistry in London.

Furthermore, the colour purple had been a signifier of aristocracy, prestige and even royalty since ancient times, and it had been especially expensive and hard to produce as the requisite dye, Tyrian purple, since it was made from the glandular mucus of certain molluscs. In the doodle, Perkin has been shown holding light in from of fashionable people in purple attires of different shades. As a British chemist and entrepreneur, he is best known for his accidental discovery of the first aniline dye popularly known as the purple mauveine.

The rich purple colour Mr Perkin had stumbled across was adopted by no less than Queen Victoria herself.

Perkin was married twice and had an impressive seven children.

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The Science Museum said: "Perkin's synthetic colourant was a gateway, leading to the emergence of the synthetic dye industry". He carried out several experiments using aniline, a waste product of coal tar which was produced in huge quantities and was readily available at low costs. He figured that the solution could be used to colour fabric. He discovered that the colour transferred to a cloth with impeccable brilliance. Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, was also one of the leading trendsetters in Europe.

Perkin sold the factory and retired at the age of 36, but he still continued to help discover a way to change the structure of organic compound on a molecular level. The dye was originally named tyrian purple but later became commonly known as mauve. In 1906, the Perkin Medal was established to commemorate the 50 anniversary of the discovery.

The reach of today's Doodle is limited to the United States, west coast of South America, the UK and a few other European countries, India, Japan and Indonesia.

Perkin died on July 14, 1907 in London, following complications of pneumonia and a burst appendix.