If scientists could build a time machine that could go back to 16th-century England, you would try not to wear purple as much as possible, which would have caused you a lot of trouble during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Why is this so? Because hundreds of years ago, purple was considered the color of the British royal family, and only the royal family and senior religious people could wear purple clothes. In 1856, an 18-year-old chemistry student accidentally discovered the lilac dye and completely changed the world, What's so special about purple? How did the discovery of purple change the world?
Residents of the Phoenician coastal city of Tyre produce a purple dye called Tyre from crushed marine mollusks, conch snails whose endocrine glands secrete purple mucus.
Around 1600 BC, the production of purple dye was a "stinky and hard" job, and there was an ancient civilization in the eastern Mediterranean, which the Greeks called "Phoenicia (Purple Land)", a land that gave birth to great inventions land. The Phoenician civilization discovered crystal, which laid the foundation for the popularization of glass. It also invented the Phoenician alphabet system, and gradually derived the Hebrew alphabet, Arabic alphabet, Greek alphabet, Latin alphabet, etc. At the same time, the Phoenicians also Made the purple dye, which exists in nature and was first turned into a dye by the Phoenicians.
The residents of the Phoenician coastal city of Tyre use crushed marine mollusks to produce a purple dye called "Tyre". This mollusk's endocrine glands secrete purple mucus. The production process is long and tedious. First of all, dye manufacturing Shang had to collect tens of thousands of mollusks from which only 1 gram of purple dye could be extracted, the collected mollusk shells had to be crushed, the glands of the mollusks were removed, and they were placed in a lead tank filled with salt water medium, then simmer for 10 days.
After prolonged processing, the pot is left with an unpleasant-smelling goo that has to be dried and milled to make the dye, and any fabric using this purple dye is expensive and sometimes even unaffordable for members of the royal family. . The Roman Emperor Aurelian is said to have prevented the Empress from even buying a purple shawl of Tyre, which was equivalent to the price of the same weight of gold.
The coveted color-biological relationship doesn’t stop there. In Central America, the Incas obtained their purple dye by drying and crushing an insect called cochineal, the female cochineal insect that often inhabits cacti that produces nopalic acid. , this is a bright red substance that can be used to dye fabrics in different shades of red, pink and purple, cochineal dye is sensitive to pH changes, so when an acidic substance like lemon juice is added, the dye produces Orange, red dye turns purple when iron is added.
In the 16th century, Spain discovered this purple dye manufacturing process when it landed on the American continent, and began to trade cochineal dye with local residents. Later, they also began to breed cochineal and sell purple dye all over Europe, creating a certain sensational effect. Although the process was easier than extracting Thiel's purple dye, it was still a labor- and resource-intensive operation, and as a result, purple dye remained expensive and a status symbol until the mid-19th century.
During the global expansion of Britain in the 19th century, many Britons contracted malaria from exposure to mosquitoes in the tropics. At that time, the only effective treatment for malaria was cinchonaline, extracted from the cinchona tree in South America, which British scientists were responsible for synthesizing. This man-made cinchonaine substance.
In 1856, a chemist named August Hoffmann came up with a bold idea to know if cinchona could be extracted from coal tar, a common waste during the Industrial Revolution, when he was 18 years old. Perkin, who joined Hoffman's research team, knew that the molecular formula of cinchonaine was C20H24N2O2, and he tried to synthesize it in the lab using simple "chemical addition and subtraction."
One reaction scheme proposed by Hoffman is to use potassium dichromate to oxidize aniline (C6H5NH2) and its sulfate derivatives. This reaction is expected to produce cinchona base and water, but the final result is a black sticky substance , When he was washing the sticky substance, he found that the use of alcohol could make the sticky substance turn purple, and some substances splashed on his clothes, it would dye purple, and then he tried to wash the clothes with soap and dry them in the sun, but The purple has not faded.
Perkin immediately recognized the bliss that the accident could bring, and under Hoffman's direction, he perfected the preparations within days and patented his dye technology, becoming the first to synthesize Inventor of the commercialization of dyes. Because of its high popularity, the lavender craze has spread like wildfire, and for the first time in centuries, ordinary residents can afford purple textiles. The purple dye developed by Perkin was named "mauvine".
Inspired by the successful development of aniline violet dyes, many chemists began to develop synthetic dyes from organic molecules, and the discovery of dyes not only changed the fashion industry, but also contributed to the rapid development of the organic chemical industry. The dye eventually laid the foundation for new drugs and medical colorants. Artificial dyes made biological samples such as chromosomes and disease-causing microbes clearly visible under the microscope. Perkin's invention also played a key role in chemotherapy research.
Imagine how tedious life would be without these colorful colors all around us, and all our clothes might still be off-white or brown if Perkin hadn't stumbled across purple dye.