Zsigmondy, Richard (1865-1929) was an Austrian chemist who did important research in colloidal chemistry. A colloid is a material composed of tiny particles of one substance that are dispersed (distributed) but not dissolved in another substance. In 1925, Zsigmondy was presented the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work. Richard Adolf Zsigmondy was born on April 1, 1865, in Vienna, Austria. He was the son of Adolf Zsigmondy, a dentist, and Irma (von Szakmáry) Zsigmondy. He studied chemistry at the Vienna University of Technology, and then received a doctorate in organic chemistry in 1890 at the University of Munich. He spent several years teaching, and also researched colors for glass, which led him to study the chemistry of colloids. In 1897, Zsigmondy became an industrial chemist for the Schott Glass Manufacturing Company in Jena, Germany. There he invented the well-known “Jena milk glass.”
In 1900, Zsigmondy left Schott to pursue independent research. He collaborated with physicist Henry F. W. Siedentopf, an employee of the Zeiss Company (now the company Carl Zeiss) to develop the ultramicroscope, a breakthrough device used to view colloids. The ultramicroscope allowed the viewer to see objects much smaller than those that can be seen under an ordinary microscope. Scientists used the ultramicroscope to study such colloidal particles as fog drops, smoke particles, and paint pigments that float in liquids or gases.
Zsigmondy served as director of the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Göttingen from 1907 until his death.
Zsigmondy died on Sept. 24, 1929, in Göttingen.