May 20, 1900 - Birth of Erika Cremer, tireless in her research on gas chromatography

Cromatografía de gases de Erika Cremer
Gas Chromatography by Erika Cremer

He enrolled at the University of Berlin to study chemistry and received his doctorate magna cum laude in 1927.

In 1933, the Nazi party comes to power in Germany and the institute is dissolved due to its anti-Nazi reputation. After that, Ella Erika was unable to find a job or continue her research.

In 1937, he returned to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry to collaborate with Otto Hahn in studying traces of radioactive compounds. Shortly thereafter he changed laboratories to concentrate on isotope separation.

At Innsbruck he investigated the hydrogenation of acetylene, but had trouble separating two gases with similar heats of adsorption using known methods. His own university was doing research on liquid absorption chromatography and that gave him an idea to devise another gas separation method using an inert carrier gas as the mobile phase. For this purpose, he developed mathematical relationships and equations and instrumentation for the first gas chromatograph.

Together with Fritz Prior, one of his students, in 1945, they were able to complete a very novel method for qualitative and quantitative measurements and analysis in 1947. This was completed with a thesis by another of his students, Roland Müller, on the analytical possibilities of the chromatograph of gases.

He presented his findings and those of his students in various articles and scientific meetings but the community responded negatively, believing that the methods used so far were sufficient.

In 1952, Martin and his partner Richard Laurence Millington Synge won the Nobel Prize for partition chromatography, which is often credited with introducing the use of gas as a mobile phase (the brainchild of Erika Cremer).

It is believed that Cremer's work was not taken into account because he did not expose his ideas to the right people and in the right places. Austrian scientists were not focused on gases, so his proposals did not have much interest and communication between scientists after the war was quite poor.

Cremer and his students coined the concept "relative retention time" and how to calculate the peak area by multiplying the peak height by the peak width at half height in gas chromatography. Furthermore, they demonstrated the relationship between measurement and column temperature and also invented headspace analysis.

If you want to know more about this scientist, click on the following link: Erika Cremer

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