Giacomo Ciamician

Giacomo Ciamician (1857 -1922) studied in Vienna and, after teaching at Rome for a while, was given an Accademia dei Lincei award for his research into the chemistry of pyrroles.
Giacomo Ciamician

In 1887 he won the nomination to Professor of General Chemistry at Padua University. In 1189, he again won the Professorship competition, this time to Bologna. Here he set up a far-famed school of chemistry which trained droves of pupils (some of whom went on to become well-known Masters in their turn), and for over 30 years his lessons brought acclaim to the Chair and the whole University.

He made an exceptional contribution to the science of chemistry: from theoretical physical chemistry to chemistry of natural substances (terpene and essential oils from plants like anise, saxifrage, parsley and celery), not to mention organic photochemistry of which he was the acknowledged founding father.

When studying spectroscopy in Vienna, Ciamician made an important observation which would later lead to the idea of energy levels in atoms: the elements of one and the same family in the periodic system have extraordinarily similar emission spectra.

Quantum theory still lying in the future, the young Ciamician formed a theory whereby spectrum analogies were set down to elements in the same group possessing certain component in common.

The idea proved right. As an older man Ciamician studied the chemical effects of sunlight on vegetable matter, photo-reduction of aldehydes, ketones, quinones and nitro-compounds in an alcohol medium, photo-dimerization and photochemical intramolecular oxidoreduction of o-nitrobenzaldehyde.

Most of this research was published in German under the general heading of Chemische Lichtwirkungen.