Instruments from university laboratories of the 20th century

temporary exhibition open from 13th September 2012 until 26 November 2012


Optical analytical instruments

Although chemical analysis, one of the most important disciplines of chemistry, dates back to the time of alchemy, specially designed analytical instruments had not been created before the half of the nineteenth century. They were the tools for the determination of contents of the substance (quantitative analysis) or to study the composition of the sample (qualitative analysis). In the construction of the first optical analitical devices the relation between the concentration of solution and different physico-chemical properities of the sample was used. For example: colored substances are measured by their color intensity in colorimeters, the concentration of optically active substances like sugar, is measured in polarimeters (saccharimeters); sodium, potassium, barium, strontium ions that are coloring the flame while burning are determined in flame fotometers depending on the spectral lines intensity. Spectroscopes, known since the 1860s, were used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of substances on the basis of spectral analysis of elements. The spectrum of every elements is characteristic for it and invariable as human fingerprints and can be used to identify the element. Spectroscopy, now modernized and widely used, was applied to examine the Sun's atmosphere in the 1860's and proved that it contained sodium, magnesium, calcium ions and enabled discovery of the new element - helium.



R. Fuess, Steglitz, Berlin, 1920-30
Device used for obtaining and recording on photographic plates the image of emission spectrum of electromagnetic radiation.
Given by the Department of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry UJ


Carl Zeiss, Jena, c. 1950
Apparatus for recording of the electromagnetic spectrum, in order to determine the qualitative and quantitative composition of the sample. Nowadays replaced by spectrometers connected to the computer, allowing the digital recording of the spectrum
Given by the Department of Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry UJ



R. Fuess, Steglitz, Berlin, 1st part of twentieth century
Device for measuring the twist of light polarization plane according to the wavelength. Used to determine the structure of the molecules in solutions
Given by the Department of Medical Biochemistry CM UJ
fotometr płomieniowy

Atomic emission spectroscope

Carl Zeiss, Jena, ok. 1960
Apparatus for the determination of sodium, potassium or calcium in the solutions of the test solution through the spray combustion of a flame. This test measures the current induced in fotocell the emitted light, passing through the absorbing filter system. The method developed by Wolfgang Schuhknechta in 1937. The apparatus shown in the two images.
Given by the Faculty of Chemistry UJ
fotometr płomieniowy


Meopta, Prerov, Czechoslovakia, c. 1960
Apparatus for determining the refractive index of solutions, which allows, for example, to measure the concentration of the substance solution. Currently in use are digital refractometers that require smaller sample volumes, even to 1 mm3.
fot. Grzegorz Zygier