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* 1. 9. 1858, Vienna, Austria
† 4. 8. 1929, Welsbach Castle in Carinthia, Austria

Chemist, inventor, entrepreneur

With contributions in the development of gas lamp, electric lamp, lighter and the discovery of several chemical elements A. is considered one of the top scientists from the end of the 19th and early 20th century. His father, Alois A. (1813-1869) was the Director of the State printing works in Vienna from 1841 on. For his merits in the development and improvement of printing presses he was elevated to knighthood and received the title "von Welsbach". From 1878 his son Carl studied chemistry in Vienna under Adolf Lieben and later in Heidelberg under Robert Bunsen. There he learnt about spectral analysis and became acquainted with elements of the rare-earth metal which were difficult to identify. After returning to Vienna in 1985, he succeeded in separating the substance, at the time known as didymium, into two elements - praseodymium and neodidymium.
At the height of the competitive battle between gas and electric lighting he made an important contribution with the invention of gas mantle. The first such version was created in 1885 by impregnating guncotton with a mixture of salts of rare-earth metal. He improved the invention in 1891 by using a mixture of thorium dioxide and cerium (IV) oxide and patented it under the name of A’s gas mantle. The manufacture of fluid, which allowed the successful impregnation of cotton, took place in a factory in the Vienna suburbs Atzgersdorf.
Fortune he gained with patents enabled him to buy a large estate in Carinthia. In 1898 he established a research and experimental laboratory in the abandoned Treibach ironworks. Here he focused his research on the development of metal filament light bulb and began competing with his previous inventions.

He took the Edison carbon filament light bulb with all its weaknesses as a starting point, which could be in his opinion improved by using a metal filament fiber with a very high melting point. He saw a possible solution in the osmium element and immediately bought the entire world's supply of this rare metal. He developed a new method which mixed osmium oxide powder with rubber or sugar into a paste, which is then squeezed through a nozzle and fired. He presented the first osmium bulb at the world exhibition in Paris in 1900. Tungsten and tantalum have an even higher melting point than osmium. That is why Siemens & Halske soon appeared in the market with a new product – tantalum bulb. Both, however, were substituted by a wolfram bulb, developed by A's secretary A. Lederer. The name of the well-known company Osram originates from a combination of the names of the elements osmium and tungsten. The company was established in 1919. A. was satisfied with the sale of his patents and by 1903 he finally stopped the manufacture of filaments in Treibach.
He was concentrated on a new business challenge: the production of flint which consisted of cerium and iron alloys. He found the material in Brazilian monazite sand which remained in large quantities after extraction of thorium on his property in Treibach. 60% of this consists of oxides of various rare-earth metals from which he in 1907 succeeded in separating two new elements. He named them aldebaranium and cassiopeium. He had to share this discovery of the elements nowadays known as ytterbium and lutetium with the Frenchman A. Urbain.
Exploiting cerium and allied metals by electrolysis is technically easier. Another crucial issue was the discovery of sparks caused by scratching or strucking of iron and cerium. This was a starting point for the use of cerium iron in cigarette lighters.
Technical problems with electrolysis were mostly solved by 1907. In the same year A. named his company Treibacher Chemische Werke GesmbH, withdrew from direct management and moved to the near Welsbach Castle, where he died a few days before his 71st birthday.
A. was a member of the Vienna and the Berlin Academy of Sciences, an Honorary Doctor of many universities and owner of Siemens-Ring. He was given the title of baron in 1901 by the Emperor Franz Joseph.

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