Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner

Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner

13 December 1780 – 24 March 1849


Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner was a German chemist who is best known for work that foreshadowed the periodic law for the chemical elements, and for inventing the first lighter, which was known as the Döbereiner’s lamp. He became a professor of chemistry and pharmacy at the University of Jena.


In the history of the periodic table, Döbereiner’s triads were an early attempt to sort the elements into some logical order by their physical properties. In 1817, a letter reported Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner’s observations of the alkaline earths; namely, that strontium had properties that were intermediate to those of calcium and barium. By 1829, Döbereiner had found other groups of three elements whose physical properties were similarly related. He also noted that some quantifiable properties of elements (e.g. atomic weight and density) in a triad followed a trend whereby the value of the middle element in the triad would be exactly or nearly predicted by taking the arithmetic mean of values for that property of the other two elements.