Paul Hermann Müller
Birth of Paul Hermann Müller, Swiss chemist and Nobel laureate, born in 1899. His work helped in efforts to control diseases such as malaria and yellow fever.
Paul Hermann Müller’s first researches concerned the chemical and electrochemical oxidation of m-xylidine, and his early work at J. R. Geigy concerned vegetable dyes and natural tanning agents. He devoted some of his spare time to research on tanning agents and he invented synthetic agents which tanned hides pure white – they were, however, not fast to light. Later, in 1930, he developed the light-fast synthetic tanning agents Irgatan FL and Irgatan FLT. He worked on disinfectants for a short while, on moth-proofing agents for textiles, on pesticides in general, and he developed Graminone, a mercury-free seed disinfectant, before, in 1935, he started his researches on new synthetic contact insecticides.
Four years of intensive work led to the synthesis of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and the basic Swiss patent was granted in 1940. This compound was originally made in 1873 by an Austrian student, but had never received any particular attention. Field trials now showed it to be effective not only against the common housefly, but also against a wide variety of pests; two products based on DDT, Gesarol and Neocide, were marketed in 1942. These compounds have also had great value in agricultural entomology and they have provided a great stimulus in the search for other insecticides.
Visit the official web site of the Nobel Prize to learn more about Paul Hermann Müller.
Excerpted with permission, www.nobelprize.org.