Although Universität Hamburg was established in 1919 and is therefore still a relatively young university, the roots of what is today the Department of Chemistry extend back to the founding of the Akademisches Gymnasium (academic gymnasium) in 1613. The rector of the Akademisches Gymnasium at that time, Joachim Jungius, made significant contributions to the development of chemistry as a natural science. It was also at this time that Purple of Cassius was discovered and named after Dr. Cassius, a good friend of Joachim Jungius who resided in Hamburg for an extended period. Another notable chapter in Hamburg’s chemistry history is the discovery of white phosphorous by the physician and alchemist Henning Brand. In 1841, the Akademisches Gymnasium expanded to include a chemical laboratory. This would later become the Chemisches Staatslaboratorium in 1878. Scientists worked here on practical problems of importance to the city.
After Universität Hamburg was founded in 1919, the Chemisches Staatslaboratorium zu Hamburg evolved into the Chemisches Staatsinstitut in 1921 and the Institute for Physical Chemistry in 1923. These institutes would become home to such eminent figures as Otto Stern, Universität Hamburg’s only Nobel Prize winner to date.
The first building complexes at the Department’s current site were constructed between 1961 and 1965. Neighboring buildings were added later as scientific activities in the Department continued to develop and new institutes and departments were founded. The University buildings are located near the Outer Alster Lake and the Planten un Blomen botanical park in the heart of the city. Students, guests, and employees can easily reach the Department with public transportation and relax and recharge in the beautiful surroundings.
The Department of Chemistry has been part of the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences since 2005.