• Richard Zsigmondy was born on April 1, 1865 at Vienna, Austria to Irma Szakmáry and Adolf Zsigmondy Sr. After his father's early death in 1880; he continued his education by his mother’s encouragement. Zsigmondy and his siblings spent much of their time climbing, mountaineering, swimming and diving.
  • Zsigmondy's interest in chemistry and physics developed at an early age. He studied Stoeckhardt's textbook Schule der Chemie and carried out many of the experiments mentioned there in his own small laboratory at his home. He learnt the basic facts about quantitative analysis under the guidance of Professor E. Ludwig of the Medical Faculty in Vienna. He then studied at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna and in 1887 went to Munich to study on indene-based chemistry under Professor W. von Miller and received his PhD in 1889. After working for some more at Professor von Miller's lab, he has move to physicist Professor Kundt in Berlin as his assistant. In 1893 he has moved to Technische Hochschule in Graz as lecturer. Latter he moved to Schott Glass Manufacturing Company in Jena and invented the famous Jena milk glass. Zsigmondy left the industry job in 1900 to pursue private research that led to the invention of the ultramicroscope and his classic studies on gold sols. These achievements awarded him a professor position of inorganic chemistry in  Göttingen Uiverrsity in  1907.
  • Richard Zsigmondy received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1925 for his work on colloids and the methods used like  ultramicroscope. Colloid particles are so small that they cannot be observed in a regular microscope. To resolve this problem, in 1902, Richard Zsigmondy introduced an idea that led to the ultramicroscope, which makes it possible to observe very small particles by illuminating the small particles in a direction that is perpendicular to the viewing angle. He used the ultramicroscope to show the heterogeneous structure of colloids, which contain particles that are small but vary in size. This was also used it to investigate various aspects of colloids, including Brownian motion and tyndall effect. This work proved particularly helpful in biochemistry and bacteriology. The ultramicroscope, meanwhile, grew steadily and would transform into the dynamic light scattering analyser that today’s nanochemists use to count and measure the size of particles, while physicists find ever more ingenious ways to do molecular imaging with visible light.
  • Richard Zsigmondy died a few years after retirement in 1929 in GöttingenGermany.

Contributed by Dr K Rajender Reddy, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad