Russian Organic Chemist Alexander Butlerov

Butlerov developed a theory of the structure of matter; every day you are using the fruits of his discoveries.

The Theory of Chemical Structure of Matter by Butlerov

Butlerov determined that there is a correlation between the structure of substances and their properties. Simply put, the substances of the same composition, but those that have a different structure will exhibit different properties.

He delivered the report on the theory of the structure of chemical compounds at the Congress of Naturalists and Physicians in Speyer (1861). There, Butlerov defeated all kinds of type theories that have been dominating the chemistry so far. Butlerov linked the reactivity of compounds with the strength of bonds between atoms in compounds.

Butlerov wrote a book “Introduction to the complete study of organic chemistry” – the world’s first guide that was based on the theory of the structure of substances. The book withstood many re-editions in the main European languages.


Every day you are faced with polymers – plastic film and plastic bags, plastic bottles and so on. Simply put, you live in the world of plastics. Even if you think that you are sitting on a wooden chair, don’t forget that it is covered with a polymer varnish.

Butlerov gave a modern definition of the polymers and of the very process of polymerization (polymer formation).

Butlerov discovered the polymerization of isobutylene. As a result of this reaction we obtaingasoline additives that increase its octane number (most likely you use such gasoline to fuel your car).

Butlerov also artificially synthesized sweetener.

Isomerism of Organic Compounds

Butlerov predicted and proved isomerism of organic substances.

What is an isomer? Imagine that you are right handed, and you are holding a smartphone in your right hand and looking in the mirror. Your reflection will show your smartphone in the left hand. In other words, isomer is a mirror image.

Interestingly,only one isomer is found more frequently in nature, and the second isomer can be obtained only by artificial means (in this case it will not be a biologically active compound). An example – ordinary sugar (natural sucrose is a Left-isomer).

Medicine with a More Than 100-yearhistory!

Butlerov synthesized hexamethylenalnine that already during the life of the scientist has found its application in medicine, and this drug has been used in medicine and veterinary medicine until today. It is an antiseptic that is used for inflammation in the urinary tract.

Interesting Hobby of Butlerov

Butlerov was passionately interested in beekeeping, and he was the chief editor of the “Russian beekeeping magazine.” His book on beekeeping withstood many re-editions.


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