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Department of Chemistry

An old photograph of people linked to the Department of Chemistry

History and heritage

Chemistry has a long and distinguished history in the city of Manchester - it was here, in 1803, where John Dalton founded modern chemistry with his atomic theory.

Here too, James Joule laid the foundations for the science of thermodynamics in the 1840s, and Edward Frankland established the theory of chemical valence at Manchester in 1852. The first UK Professor of Organic Chemistry, Carl Schorlemmer, was appointed here in 1874.

Manchester has always been at the front line of chemistry - and we aim to keep it there. In more recent times we can point to chemistry Nobel Prize winners such as John Polanyi (1986) and Michael Smith (1993), both of whom studied for their BSc and PhD here. Add to this the many Royal Society of Chemistry medallists presently on our staff and it forms a continuing tradition of which we are justifiably proud.

Of course chemistry does not have all of the 'firsts'. We should also mention that in our sister science physics, Ernest Rutherford - who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry - first split the atom here at Manchester.

Our history in pictures