Hermann Staudinger discovered the Staudinger reaction

Hermann Staudinger – discoverer of ketenes & Staudinger reaction

Article on Hermann Staudinger

Biography & contributions

Hermann Staudinger was a German chemist and Nobel laureate born on March 23, 1881 – died on September 08, 1965. Staudinger is well known for his discovery of Staudinger reaction and ketenes. He is considered as ‘Pioneer of polymer research ‘ , ‘ Founder of plastics chemistry’, ‘ father of macromolecules’, ‘father of macromolecular chemistry’ .

Staudinger received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year of 1953 for his pioneering work on macromolecular chemistry. On April 19, 1999 the American Chemical Society paid tribute to his laboratory in Freiburg named as "international historic landmark of chemistry".

He was demonstrated that polymers are long-chain molecules which is then made basis of foundation for the great expansion of the plastics industry in the 20th century. Staudinger’s first discovery was that of the highly reactive organic compounds known as ketenes. His work on polymers began with German chemical firm BASF on the synthesis of isoprene in the year of 1910.

Staudinger researches on polymers eventually contributed to the development of molecular biology, which seeks to understand the structure and functions of macromolecules found in living organisms. He also studied some important compounds like diazo compounds, butadiene and isoprene mixtures, oxalyl chloride, pentavalent phosphorus, and the molecular structure of cellulose, natural rubber, polyethylene oxide, polyoxymethylene, polystyrene, and pyrethrins.

Staudinger Reaction

Staudinger reaction is one of the important chemical reactions in organic chemistry in which the combination of an azide with a phosphine or phosphite produces an iminophosphorane intermediate. The Staudinger reaction is an organic reaction used to convert an organic azide to a primary amine using a triphenylphosphine and water. The reaction mechanism begins with attack of the phosphorus on the far nitrogen of the organic azide to give a phosphazide intermediate.

This intermediate then goes through a rearrangement process as a result that releases a molecule of nitrogen gas and forms an N-P ylide. The molecule of water then attacks the phosphorus atom and a series or proton transfer steps follow to result in the formation of the final primary amine and a triphenylphosphine oxide by-product.


A macromolecule is a very large molecule commonly created by polymerization of smaller subunits. In biochemistry, the term is applied to the three conventional biopolymers, as well as non-polymeric molecules with large molecular mass such as lipids and macrocycles.

Facts about polystyrene

Polystyrene is a long chain hydrocarbon, synthetic aromatic polymer wherein alternating carbon centers are attached to phenyl groups in its structure. It is an inexpensive resin per unit weight. It is a rather poor barrier to oxygen and water vapor and has a relatively low melting point. Polystyrene is one of the most widely used plastics, the scale of its production being several billion kilograms per year. Polystyrene is very slow to biodegradable material. It is often abundant as a form of litter in the outdoor environment, particularly along shores and waterways, especially in its foam form.

Polystyrene is very chemically inert, being resistant to acids and bases but is easily dissolved by many chlorinated solvents, and many aromatic hydrocarbon solvents. Polystyrene is used for producing disposable plastic cutlery and dinnerware, smoke detector housings, license plate frames, plastic model assembly kits, and many other objects where a rigid.

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