Review Of Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner's Impact On Periodic Table


There are various reasons that Dobereiner had one of the most major impacts in the periodic table. While his research at the time wasn’t recognised, in the coming years, other scientists like john Newlands, built off his work and gave him the credibility he deserved. Dobereiner had a major part in the building blocks for the future periodic table, that is commonly used all around the world.

Dobereiner was the first scientist to understand and document the similarities between elements, like Iodine, Chlorine and Bromine and labeled them according to their similarities. Cl, Br and I were all used to make salts, such as Sodium Chloride and Sodium Iodide which is why their name was Salt Formers. This was a very useful part of information for the periodic table, as the modern table uses a similar system using groups, which behave similarly and have similar properties. Dobereiner may have been able to come to this conclusion had he been around when more elements were discovered. Because of how early he died, he was only able to group a very small number of elements, making alkali metals, alkaline-earth metals and acid-forming triads.

Dobereiner had also come to realise that these triads also shared an atomic mass pattern. This pattern was that the smallest atomic weight element and the largest atomic weight elements made the mean of the middle element. This also could be used for future periodic tables as it allows the elements to be placed in relation to their atomic weight. Although this may not have had as large of an impact as the triads (property triads), it was an excellent start for the periodic table, that would allow many scientists to build off of it.

Due to Dobereiner’s lack of faith in his work, and the lack of elements, his work wasn’t published immediately. Due to this, while he was alive at least, Dobereiner won no medals or prizes for his work. He wasn’t awarded any recognition until half a century later. Because of this, some may argue that his contributions weren’t significant, but once they were acknowledged, it made a large disruption in the table (in a good way). Over the next century, many scientists would use the somewhat new-found information to make new trends that are used today, like groups. Many would argue against Dobereiner being the main cause of groups, as he had no impact on the valence electron side of groups, but he had a large impact on the property side of groups, which is why Dobereiner had the greatest singular importance to the table.


John Newland was a scientist who also contributed to the periodic table and is one of the most known scientists in that field. Newlands had made various discoveries and improvements to the periodic table, but also had many issues with his work. Newlands is most know for his Law of Octaves. He pointed out that every eighth element in this grouping shared a resemblance and suggested an analogy with the intervals of the musical scale (giving the name octaves). He arranged all the elements known at the time into a table in order of relative atomic mass. When he did this, he found that each element was similar to the element eight places further on. This part of his discovery was very useful to society as this is all still true now, as every element in the same group is spaced 8 elements away from the one before it, if you don’t include the transition metals. this work was mainly built off Dobereiner’s triads. This part wasn’t the issue, what was the issue though, was that he sorted his version of the periodic table in the complete wrong way. Newlands grouped metals and non-metals together and put them in the same group as each other. An example of this is that he put a metal, Iron, with two non-metals, Oxygen and Sulfur, which in the modern periodic table, would make sense, or fit the pattern of the table. Due to this large error in his work, paired with the fact that his work was mainly built off of Dobereiner, Newlands work isn’t up to the same standard as Dobereiner’s, making his work less impactful.


In conclusion, many scientists have and are still working on the periodic table, but no scientist has quite made such an impact as Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner. Even though Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner was in a time frame where scientists had very little knowledge on elements, he still had major contributions, both at the time and in the future. Due to his deep understanding of elemental properties, Dobereiner has been able to do so much for chemistry.


After doing an extensive amount of research, I have found that no one has quite made the same impact as Dobereiner. Scientists like John Newlands, who made the law of octaves, had a large impact, but had too many flaws with their concept, such as paring non-metals with metals. Dobereiner didn’t have these issues though, as his work had less issues and couldn’t be disproven.  

16 December 2021
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