British chemist Sir William Henry Perkin is today's google doodle. Today is his 180th birth anniversary. Mr Perkin gave the world "mauveine," the world's first synthetic dye, used for colouring fabrics. However, the discovery was an accidental one. When Sir William Henry Perkin was 18 years old and worked as a laboratory assistant, he was cleaning out dark muck from a beaker after a failed experiment. He noticed that the substance left a vivid purple stain when diluted with alcohol. His timing was remarkable as the textile industry was at a high during that period in 1850s.
At the time, all dyes used for colouring cloth were natural substances, many of which were expensive and labour-intensive to extract. The exclusive and expensive purple dye, with Sir William Henry Perkin's discovery, became readily accessible to the masses. This resulted in a violet fashion craze. Even Queen Victoria wore a mauveine-dyed gown to the Royal Exhibition of 1862.
To reach to the people, however, was not an easy task. Mr Perkin was still faced several problems. Apart from the financial ones, manufacturing it at a large scale and and most of all, the product being accepted by the people. He managed to persuade his father to put up the capital and his brothers to partner with him to build a factory. He also gave technical advice to the dyeing industry and publicised his invention.|
Following his discovery, he focused on the patenting, manufacturing, and commercialization of this purple dye, which he named "mauveine." After the discovery of mauveine, many new aniline dyes appeared in the market across Europe.
Wealthy and successful from his stint in manufacturing, Mr Perkin eventually returned to laboratory research. On the 50th anniversary of his discovery, he was knighted in 1906.