September 28, 1852, in Paris (France) – February 20, 1907, in Paris (France)
He studied at the Collège de Meaux, at the Institute of Agronomy in Paris and at the Institute of Toxicology. In 1874, he obtained his bachelor's degree in chemistry and, in 1880, his doctorate with a thesis on cyanogen and its reactions to form cyanide.
He worked at the Natural History Museum in Paris and in the laboratories of Edmond Frémy (a chemist known for the salt that bears his name).
Between 1879 and 1886, he was a professor at the Higher School of Pharmacy, teaching Chemistry and Toxicology.
In 1886, he manages to isolate fluorine in the form of a greenish-yellow gas by electrolysis of a solution of potassium hydrofluoride in anhydrous hydrofluoric acid. The existence of fluorine was already known, although all attempts to obtain it had been unsuccessful, and even some researchers had died trying.
In 1891 he entered the Academy of Sciences and, from 1900, he became Professor of Chemistry at the University of Paris.
In 1893, he presented his method of obtaining small artificial diamonds from carbon dissolved in molten iron, which generated a revolution at the time. However, when it came to recreating the experiment, neither he nor any other scientist could. Nowadays, it is believed that he was the victim of some prank by some helper who placed those small diamonds in the molten iron mixture.
Among his contributions to science, there is also his arc furnace capable of reaching temperatures of 4,100 ° C, allowing the reduction of minerals of certain metals such as uranium, chromium, tungsten, vanadium, manganese, titanium and molybdenum.
In addition, he was one of the first to carry out research on calcium, discovered by Humphry Davy in 1808, achieving a purity of 99% by electrolysis of calcium iodide.
For his isolation of fluorine, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1906, dying suddenly after an attack of appendicitis, shortly after returning from Stockholm to collect the prestigious award.