Vol. 1 No. 2 (2017)
Historical Articles

The Early History of Polyaniline: Discovery and Origins

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

Published 2017-10-06


  • polyaniline,
  • aniline black,
  • emeraldine,
  • conjugated polymers,
  • oxidative polymerization

How to Cite

Rasmussen, S. C. (2017). The Early History of Polyaniline: Discovery and Origins. Substantia, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.13128/Substantia-30


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.