Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) was a French scientist known as the father of modern chemistry. Through his experiments, this discipline was first considered to be an exact science. In addition, Lavoisier’s work has enabled us to know certain vital mechanisms on the activity of matter and chemical elements.
Below we will see a biography of Antoine Lavoisier and an explanation of his main scientific contributions.
Antoine Lavoisier: biography of the father of modern chemistry
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, known as Antoine Lavoisier, was born in Paris on August 26, 1743. He grew up in a bourgeois family under the care of his aunt, due to the premature death of his mother.
From 1754 to 1761, Lavoisier studied humanities and sciences at the Collège Mazarin, under the tutelage of the astronomer and mathematician Abbé La Caille, one of the first to measure the meridian arc. He then studied chemistry and botany, as well as law.
As a result of the latter, he was admitted to the Bar Association, an honorary organization that promotes the teaching of law. However, Lavoisier did not devote himself to this exercise but inclined to scientific research, With which he was admitted to the Academy of Sciences in Paris in 1768, at the age of 25.
A year later, he participated in the development of the first geological map of France and in the same context, he continues to carry out multidisciplinary tasks. In 1771, she married Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, who quickly trained in the scientific context of Lavoisier, then edited and published her husband’s memoirs. Lavoisier he died on the guillotine of the French Revolution May 8, 1794.
5 main scientific contributions
Like other scientists of his generation, Antoine Lavoisier received expert training in a wide variety of fields. For the same contribute not only to modern chemistry and science, but also to humanities and the arts.
However, he is best known for being the first scientist to carry out the first quantitative experiments in chemistry, which earned this discipline its immersion in the exact sciences. As a result, Lavoisier is recognized as a pioneer of stoichiometry (the calculation of the properties of matter in chemical reactions).
Some of his most important experiences they concern the nature of combustion, the role of oxygen in the oxidation of the metal, the role of oxygen in the respiration of animals and plants, and the mechanism of alcoholic fermentation. Generally speaking, we will see below some of Lavoisier’s major contributions to chemistry.
1. Right of conservation of material
Lavoisier intended to study all the substances involved in the reactions he was studying. Through multiple experiments, he concluded that during chemical reactions, matter is not destroyed. He was therefore one of the main defenders of the laws of conversation in this area. In other words, he succeeded in proving that in a chemical reaction, the quantity of matter does not change, in no case does its state change.
Perhaps Lavoisier’s most recognized scientific contribution relates to the nature of combustion. He describes this as the result of oxygen being combined with another substance. Thus, he developed a theory of oxygen and its role in combustion; which is ultimately made up as an experimental chemical theory on respiration and calcination.
This theory posed a challenge to current knowledge, derived from the flogist theory, which supported mass loss after combustion.
Lavoisier argued that the air, necessary for combustion, is also a source of acidity. The particle responsible for this is called oxygen, which in Greek means “sharp,” meaning that the strong taste of acids came from this particle.
too much has shown that heat in animals is mainly caused by the combustion of carbon by oxygen, And that during physical activity, the consumption of oxygen increases, which produces more heat. On the other hand, he also argued that air is a mixture of gases, where mainly elements such as nitrogen and oxygen are found.
On the other hand, he discovered that what was heretofore known as “flammable air”, which I call “hydrogen” (from the Greek “forming water”), could produce water when it was combined with oxygen. The latter based on the earlier work of another scientist named Priestley. Thus, it is attributed to Lavoisier having researched in depth and for the first time the composition of water and air.
5. The elements and their nomenclature
He developed the concept of “element” by arguing that they are simple chemicals, that is, substances that cannot break down into simpler substances. From there, he developed a series of proposals on the composition of complex compounds that result from reactions between elements.
For the time being there was no rational nomenclature on the elements that make up nature. Until then, theories focused on earth, water, air and fire. From Lavoisier’s studies, along with other French chemists, the Academy of Sciences accepted the existence of 55 simple substances which he called “chemical elements”. This facilitated communication between the chemists of the time, and introduced for the first time concepts such as “sulfuric acid” and “sulphates”.
Some of Antoine Lavoisier’s major works are On Combustion in General and Memoirs on Combustion, both dating from 1777; General Considerations on the Nature of Acids, 1778, Flogist Reflections, 1787, and Method of Chemical Nomenclature, 1787.
- Antoine Lavoisier (2016). New World Encyclopedia. Accessed October 19, 2018.Available at http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Antoine_Lavoisier.
- Donovan, A. (2018). Antoine Lavoisier. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed October 19, 2018.Available at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Antoine-Laurent-Lavoisier.