Chemical Element: fluorine

(Modern Latin: chemical element; from Latin, fluere, to flow; gas)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: F
Atomic number: 9
Year discovered: 1886

Discovered by: Ferdinard-Frédéric-Henri Moissan (1852-1907), a French chemist.

  • For three-quarters of a century, chemists had known that a certain element must exist; and they had even given it a name: “flourine”.
  • A number of chemists tried to isolate it and found the process not only difficult but dangerous, for the materials they had to work with were poisonous.
  • It seems that George Gore made a little fluorine through an electrolytic process, but his apparatus exploded when the fluorine produced reacted with hydrogen from the other electrode.
  • The element finally was isolated in 1886 by Ferdinard-Frédéric-Henri Moissan who used an apparatus constructed of platinum, because it was one of the very few substances that fluorine would not attack and combine with instantly.
  • He figured that if he could isolate some fluorine in platinum, that fluorine would stay isolated; and he was right.
  • For this, he received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1906 (receiving, according to one report, one vote more than Mendeléyev did, which if this is true, it was an injustice because Mendeléyev was thought to have been more deserving); according to Isaac Asimov in his Asimov’s Chronology of Science & Discovery, 1989.

Name in other languages:

French: fluor

German: Fluor

Italian: fluoro

Spanish: flúor

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.