Chemist. He began his studies at the University of Göttingen in law and philology but switched to chemistry at the University of Giessen under Justus von Liebig. In 1845, he was selected to be the first director of Physical Chemistry at the Royal College of Chemistry, London, which post he held simultaneously with the post Extraordinary Professor at the University of Bonn, until 1864, when he returned to Bonn. In 1865, he was made Professor of Chemistry and director of the laboratory at Berlin University. His first work in organic chemistry under Liebig was the study of coal tar, leading him into the study of aniline dyes, which he remained interested in the rest of his life. He was known for his studies of the amines, ammonium bases, and similar organic phosphorus compounds and was the first to synthesize rosaniline. He invented the Hofmann voltameter. The Hofmann rearrangement, Hofmann elimination reaction, and the Hofmann-Löffler reaction are named for him. He also was the first to use molecular models in his lectures, albeit of a two dimensional type, ca. 1860, and his color scheme for the elements in such models is still in use today. He was the first to conclusively identify formaldehyde and the first to isolate sorbic acid. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1851 and was awarded the Royal Medal in 1854 and the Copley Medal in 1875. He was known for training future chemists: Nobel Prize winner Fritz Haber was probably his most famous student.
Bio by: Kenneth Gilbert
Johann Philipp Hofmann