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Thomas Graham (chemist)


Thomas Graham FRS (December 21, 1805 – September 16, 1869) was born in Glasgow, Scotland. Graham's father was a successful textile manufacturer, and wanted his son to enter into the Church of Scotland. Instead, defying his father's wishes, Graham became a student at the University of Glasgow in 1819. There he developed a strong interest in chemistry, and left the University after receiving his M.A. in 1826. He later became a professor of chemistry at numerous colleges, including the Royal College of Science and Technology and the University of London.

Graham also founded the Chemical Society of London in 1841.

His final postition was as the Master of the Mint, where he stayed for 15 years until his death. He was the last person to hold that position.

Scientific work

Thomas Graham is best known for two things:

1. His studies on the diffusion of gases resulted in "Graham's Law", which states that the rate of effusion of a gas is inversely proportional to the square root of its molar mass.

2. His discovery of dialysis, which is used in many medical facilities today, was the result of Graham's study of colloids. This work resulted in Graham's ability to separate colloids and crystalloids using a so-called "dialyzer", the precursor of today's dialysis machine. This study initiated the scientific field known as colloid chemistry, of which Graham is credited as the founder.

Honours, activities, and recognition


  • Fellow of the Royal Society (1836)
  • First President of the Chemical Society of London (1841)
  • Royal Medal of the Royal Society (1837 and 1863)
  • Copley Medal of the Royal Society (1862)
  • Prix Jecker of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1862)
  • (Unofficial Honour) Statue of Graham in Glasgow ("given" in 1872)
  • The University of Strathclyde, where Graham worked at one of its precursor institutions, has named the building housing the chemistry department after him.
  • The headquarters of the Royal Society of Chemistry in Cambridge, UK is the Thomas Graham House.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thomas_Graham_(chemist)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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