Perkin’s Mauve: A molecule that changed the world

During the Easter holiday from classes in 1856, William Perkin decided to attempt the preparation of quinine, an anti-malarial agent, in his home laboratory.  His initial plan failed, but close observation revealed that he had accidentally synthesized a beautiful purple compound.  At the time, purple clothing was available only to the rich.  Perkin sensed an opportunity.  Utilizing his discovery, he produced the dye on an extremely large scale by an inexpensive process and founded science-based industry.

This is one example of how science, history, and art are fundamentally intertwined.  Those who participate will gain a better appreciation of the intersection between chemistry and our lives.


Dr. Michael LeonardAssociate Professor and Department Chair of Chemistry