Google honours British chemist Perkin with sketch doodle on his 180th birthday

Who was Sir William Henry Perkin? Meet the scientist behind today's Google doodle

Sir William Henry Perkin changed the colour of the world

The Doodle shows Sir William Henry Perkin with a bottle of the purple dye on the right of the Doodle, as the letters of the word Google flow through what appear to be men and women from the 19th century wearing clothes dyed in the colour. Even Queen Victoria wore a mauveine-dyed gown at the Royal Exhibition of 1862. Perkin discovered the first synthetic dye, known as mauveine.

Google is celebrating what would have been the 180th birthday of chemist Sir William Henry Perkin who discovered the first synthetic dye. "Perkin's strong and inexpensively produced mauveine finally made this once-exclusive color readily accessible, igniting a violet fashion frenzy - as seen in today's Doodle by UK-based illustrator Sonny Ross", Google describes in its blog post. Born on March 12, 1838, in London, Perkin was an inquisitive child but his ardour for chemistry gained momentum after he stumbled upon a deteriorating laboratory at his late grandfather's home.

In 1853 he attended the Royal College of Chemistry, which is now part of Imperial College London - at the ripe age of 15. German chemist August von Hofmann recognised Perkin's ability and made him his assistant. However, his attempt at making quinine from aniline, an low-cost coal tar waste, was unsuccessful.

After further examination, Perkin added potassium dichromate and alcohol into the aniline in various stages, which resulted in a deep purple solution.

Perkin originally named his dye Tyrian Purple, but it later became commonly known as mauve. Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, was also one of the leading trendsetters in Europe.

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The Science Museum said: "Perkin's synthetic colourant was a gateway, leading to the emergence of the synthetic dye industry".

After making relative riches from manufacturing, Sir William Henry Perkin turn to researching and studying chemical processes and was knighted in 1906, 50 years after his accidental discovery.

Perkin died on July 14, 1907 in London, following complications of pneumonia and a burst appendix.

All of his three sons also went on to become chemists, following in their father's famous footsteps.

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