The Early History of Polyaniline: Discovery and Origins


Prior to the discovery of its conductive properties in the 1960s, polyaniline was studied and applied as a variety of colored materials and dyes. The history of the discovery and origins of polyaniline are presented beginning with the initial oxidation of aniline by F. Ferdinand Runge in 1834 and concluding with the first electrochemical oxidation of aniline by Henry Letheby in 1862. In the process, the reports of aniline oxidation products between 1834 and 1862 are evaluated and discussed in light of modern knowledge, highlighting the various historical contributions to the current field of conjugated polymers. Finally, an initial argument for polyaniline as the first synthetic organic polymer is presented.

Author Biography

Seth C. Rasmussen, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, North Dakota State University, NDSU Dept. 2735, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050, USA

Seth C. Rasmussen is Professor of Chemistry at North Dakota State University in Fargo. Formally trained in inorganic chemistry (Ph.D. Clemson University 1994), he then studied conjugated organic polymers as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Oregon. Active in the fields of materials chemistry and the history of chemistry, his research interests include the design and synthesis of conjugated materials, photovoltaics, organic light emitting diodes, the history of materials, chemical technology in antiquity, and the application of history to chemical education. Prof. Rasmussen currently serves as the Program Chair for the ACS Division of the History of Chemistry, as Series Editor for Springer Briefs in Molecular Science: History of Chemistry, and as editor for the journal Cogent Chemistry.

How to Cite
RASMUSSEN, Seth C.. The Early History of Polyaniline: Discovery and Origins. Substantia, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 2, oct. 2017. ISSN 2532-3997. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 jan. 2018. doi:
Historical Articles