Timeline of Chemical Element Discoveries

Timeline of Chemical Element Discoveries

Welcome to ChronoFlo's interactive timeline of chemical element discoveries. Here, you can find out when all of the 118 known chemical elements were discovered and read about the pioneering men and women who identified them - people like [**Marie**](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie) and [**Pierre**](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Curie) Curie, who won Nobel prizes for their discoveries of Radium and Polonium. The timeline offers an alternate visual perspective on the chemical elements, in contrast to the famous [**Periodic Table**](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodic_table) devised by Russian chemist [**Dmitri Mendeleev**](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitri_Mendeleev). We hope this multimedia timeline will be a valuable resource for educators who want to teach their students about the history of chemical elements, and also for anyone who is interested in the history of scientific discovery. ### About This timeline was made using [**ChronoFlo Timeline Maker**](/), a free online service for producing interactive timelines that can be shared on the web. Information for the timeline was compiled from [**Wikipedia**](https://www.wikipedia.org) data, in particular Wikipedia's chemical element discoveries [**page**](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_chemical_element_discoveries). ### Credits Design: [**ChronoFlo Timeline Maker**](/) Information: [**Wikipedia**](https://www.wikipedia.org) Images: [**WikiMedia Commons**](https://commons.wikimedia.org)

0600 BC-01-01 00:00:00

Platinum (78)

Used by pre-Columbian Americans near modern-day Esmeraldas, Ecuador to produce artifacts of a white gold-platinum alloy, although precise dating is difficult. First European description of a metal found in South American gold was in 1557 by Julius Caesar...

0815-01-01 00:00:00

Antimony (51)

Dioscorides and Pliny both describe the accidental production of metallic antimony from stibnite, but only seem to recognize the metal as lead. The intentional isolation of antimony is described by Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan. In Europe, the metal...

0815-01-01 00:00:00

Arsenic (33)

The use of metallic arsenic was described by the Egyptian alchemist Zosimos. The purification of arsenic was later described by Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan. Albertus Magnus (c. 1200-1280) is typically credited with the description of the metalloid...

1000 BC-01-01 00:00:00

Zinc (30)

Used as a component of brass since antiquity (before 1000 BC) by Indian metallurgists, but its true nature was not understood in ancient times. Identified as a distinct metal in the Rasaratna Samuccaya around the 14th century of the Christian era and by...

1000-01-01 00:00:00

Bismuth (83)

Described by Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan in the Jabirian corpus. Later described in Europe by Claude François Geoffroy in 1753.

1500 BC-01-01 00:00:00

Mercury (80)

Found in Egyptian tombs dating from 1500 BC.

1669-01-01 00:00:00

Phosphorus (15)

Prepared from urine, it was the first element to be discovered since ancient times.

1735-01-01 00:00:00

Cobalt (27)

Proved that the blue color of glass is due to a new kind of metal and not bismuth as thought previously.

1751-01-01 00:00:00

Nickel (28)

Found by attempting to extract copper from the mineral known as fake copper (now known as niccolite).

1755-01-01 00:00:00

Magnesium (12)

Black observed that magnesia alba (MgO) was not quicklime (CaO). Davy isolated the metal electrochemically from magnesia.

1766-01-01 00:00:00

Hydrogen (1)

Cavendish was the first to distinguish H2 from other gases, although Paracelsus around 1500, Robert Boyle, and Joseph Priestley had observed its production by reacting strong acids with metals. Lavoisier named it in 1783. It was the first elemental gas...

1771-01-01 00:00:00

Oxygen (8)

Scheele obtained it by heating mercuric oxide and nitrates in 1771, but did not publish his findings until 1777. Joseph Priestley also prepared this new air by 1774, but only Lavoisier recognized it as a true element; he named it in 1777. Before him,...

1772-01-01 00:00:00

Barium (56)

Scheele distinguished a new earth (BaO) in pyrolusite and Davy isolated the metal by electrolysis.

1772-01-01 00:00:00

Nitrogen (7)

Rutherford discovered nitrogen while studying at the University of Edinburgh. He showed that the air in which animals had breathed, even after removal of the exhaled carbon dioxide, was no longer able to burn a candle. Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Henry...

1774-01-01 00:00:00

Chlorine (17)

Obtained it from hydrochloric acid, but thought it was an oxide. Only in 1808 did Humphry Davy recognize it as an element.

1774-01-01 00:00:00

Manganese (25)

Distinguished pyrolusite as the calx of a new metal. Ignatius Gottfred Kaim also discovered the new metal in 1770, as did Scheele in 1774. It was isolated by reduction of manganese dioxide with carbon.

1778-01-01 00:00:00

Molybdenum (42)

Scheele recognised the metal as a constituent of molybdena.

1781-01-01 00:00:00

Tungsten (74)

Scheele obtained from scheelite an oxide of a new element. The Elhuyars obtained tungstic acid from wolframite and reduced it with charcoal.

1782-01-01 00:00:00

Tellurium (52)

Muller observed it as an impurity in gold ores from Transylvania.

1787-01-01 00:00:00

Strontium (38)

Cruikshank and Adair Crawford in 1790 concluded that strontianite contained a new earth. It was eventually isolated electrochemically in 1808 by Humphry Davy.

1789-01-01 00:00:00

Uranium (92)

Klaproth mistakenly identified a uranium oxide obtained from pitchblende as the element itself and named it after the recently discovered planet Uranus.

1789-01-01 00:00:00

Zirconium (40)

Martin Heinrich Klaproth identified a new element in zirconia.

1791-01-01 00:00:00

Titanium (22)

Gregor found an oxide of a new metal in ilmenite; Klaproth independently discovered the element in rutile in 1795 and named it. The pure metallic form was only obtained in 1910 by Matthew A. Hunter.

1794-01-01 00:00:00

Chromium (24)

Vauquelin discovered the trioxide in crocoite ore, and later isolated the metal by heating the oxide in a charcoal oven.

1794-01-01 00:00:00

Yttrium (39)

Discovered in gadolinite, but Mosander showed later that its ore, yttria, contained more elements. Wöhler mistakenly thought he had isolated the metal in 1828 from a volatile chloride he supposed to be yttrium chloride, but Rose proved otherwise in 1843...

1798-01-01 00:00:00

Beryllium (4)

Vauquelin discovered the oxide in beryl and emerald, and Klaproth suggested the present name around 1808.

1799-12-15 19:00:00

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1801-01-01 00:00:00

Niobium (41)

Hatchett found the element in columbite ore and named it columbium. Heinrich Rose proved in 1844 that the element is distinct from tantalum, and renamed it niobium which was officially accepted in 1949.

1802-01-01 00:00:00

Palladium (46)

Wollaston discovered it in samples of platinum from South America, but did not publish his results immediately. He had intended to name it after the newly discovered asteroid, Ceres, but by the time he published his results in 1804, cerium had taken that...

1802-01-01 00:00:00

Tantalum (73)

Ekeberg found another element in minerals similar to columbite and in 1844, Heinrich Rose proved that it was distinct from niobium.

1803-01-01 00:00:00

Cerium (58)

Berzelius and Hisinger discovered the element in ceria and named it after the newly discovered asteroid (then considered a planet), Ceres. Klaproth discovered it simultaneously and independently in some tantalum samples. Mosander proved later that the...

1803-01-01 00:00:00

Iridium (77)

Tennant had been working on samples of South American platinum in parallel with Wollaston and discovered two new elements, which he named osmium and iridium, and published the iridium results in 1804.

1803-01-01 00:00:00

Osmium (76)

Tennant had been working on samples of South American platinum in parallel with Wollaston and discovered two new elements, which he named osmium and iridium.

1804-01-01 00:00:00

Rhodium (45)

Wollaston discovered and isolated it from crude platinum samples from South America.

1807-01-01 00:00:00

Potassium (19)

Davy discovered it by using electrolysis on potash.

1807-01-01 00:00:00

Sodium (11)

Andreas Sigismund Marggraf recognised the difference between soda ash and potash in 1758. Davy discovered sodium a few days after potassium, by using electrolysis on sodium hydroxide.

1808-01-01 00:00:00

Boron (5)

Radical boracique appears on the list of elements in Lavoisier's Traité Élémentaire de Chimie from 1789. On June 21, 1808, Lussac and Thénard announced a new element in sedative salt, Davy announced the isolation of a new substance from boracic acid on...

1808-01-01 00:00:00

Calcium (20)

Davy discovered the metal by electrolysis of quicklime.

1810-01-01 00:00:00

Fluorine (9)

Radical fluorique appears on the list of elements in Lavoisier's Traité Élémentaire de Chimie from 1789, but radical muriatique also appears instead of chlorine. André-Marie Ampère predicted an element analogous to chlorine obtainable from hydrofluoric...

1811-01-01 00:00:00

Iodine (53)

Courtois discovered it in the ashes of seaweed.

1817-01-01 00:00:00

Cadmium (48)

All three found an unknown metal in a sample of zinc oxide from Silesia, but the name that Stromeyer gave became the accepted one.

1817-01-01 00:00:00

Lithium (3)

Arfwedson discovered the alkali in petalite.

1817-01-01 00:00:00

Selenium (34)

While working with lead they discovered a substance that they thought was tellurium, but realized after more investigation that it was different.

1823-01-01 00:00:00

Silicon (14)

Humphry Davy thought in 1800 that silica was a compound, not an element, and in 1808 suggested the present name. In 1811 Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thénard probably prepared impure silicon, but Berzelius is credited with the discovery for...

1824-01-01 00:00:00

Aluminium (13)

Antoine Lavoisier predicted in 1787 that alumina is the oxide of an undiscovered element, and in 1808 Humphry Davy tried to decompose it. Although he failed, he suggested the present name. Hans Christian Ørsted was the first to isolate metallic aluminium...

1825-01-01 00:00:00

Bromine (35)

They both discovered the element in the autumn of 1825. Balard published his results the next year, but Löwig did not publish until 1827.

1829-01-01 00:00:00

Thorium (90)

Berzelius obtained the oxide of a new earth in thorite.

1830-01-01 00:00:00

Vanadium (23)

Andrés Manuel del Río found the metal in vanadinite in 1801, but retracted the claim after Hippolyte Victor Collet-Descotils disputed it. Nils Gabriel Sefström rediscovered the element and named it, and later it was shown that del Río had been right in...

1838-01-01 00:00:00

Lanthanum (57)

Mosander found a new element in samples of ceria and published his results in 1842, but later he showed that this lanthana contained four more elements.

1843-01-01 00:00:00

Erbium (68)

Mosander managed to split the old yttria into yttria proper and erbia, and later terbia too.

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