William Christopher Zeise Biography
(Danish Organic Chemist Known for Synthesising 'Zeise's Salt' and Discovering 'Xanthates')
Birthday: October 15, 1789 (Libra)
Born In: Slagelse, Denmark
William Christopher Zeise was a prominent Danish organic chemist who is credited for synthesizing the first synthetic organometallic compound, which he named ‘sal kalicoplatinicus inflammabilis’. Today, the salt bears his name and is popularly referred to as Zeise's salt. Born to pharmacist father, Zeise developed an interest in natural science while at secondary school. He moved to Copenhagen where he trained under Gottfried Becker as a pharmacy assistant at the Royal Court Pharmacy. Frail health forced him to return to his homeland but not for long. Zeise resumed his studies at the University of Copenhagen with a greater fervour for chemistry. He did not aim to be just a court apothecary. Following his doctoral thesis, Zeise researched intensively. His investigations of organic sulfur compounds led to the discovery of a new class of organic compounds xanthates, which were isolated as yellow potassium salts in 1823. Other sulfur compounds discovered by him include the thioalcohols or mercaptan and the sulfides or thioethers. Zeise was decorated with the Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog by Danish monarch for his scientific discoveries and investigations.