1811-1899

Robert Wilhelm Bunsen

Location: First Floor, Room 138, South Wall, Sequence 8

Source: Edgar Fahs Smith Collection

Sponsor: Stanley R. Crouch


Bunsen was a great scientist, superb experimentalist and inspiring teacher. With Kirkhoff he invented the spectroscope and used it to discover the elements rubidium and cesium. He developed methods of gas analysis, iodimetry, spectral analysis and flame tests. Instruments he invented include the ice calorimeter, carbon/zinc battery, filter pump, Bunsen valve (slit in a rubber tube), grease spot photometer and, of course, the gas burner. His first researches were on cacodyl (tetramethyldiarsine), a spontaneously flammable substance with a detestable odor; an explosion cost him the sight of his right eye and severe illness from arsenic poisoning, after which all his remaining researches were on inorganic substances.