Robert Bunsen, German chemist, c 1840-1870.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by C H Jeens of ROBERT WILHELM BUNSEN (1811-1899) . Bunsen is widely considered one of the greatest experimental chemists of the 19th century. He was a pioneer of chemical spectroscopy who pioneered spectrum analysis with Gustav Robert Kirchhoff (1824-1887). This led to the invention of the Bunsen-Kirchhoff spectroscope and the discovery of new elements. Bunsen himself discovered rubidium and caesium. He was a pioneer in photochemistry, invented the filter pump, and an actinometer with Sir Henry Roscoe (1833-1915). He did not invent the Bunsen burner, (probably devised by his technician C Desaga), but improved its design. Toxic and flammable cacodyl compounds caused him to lose the sight of one eye and nearly die of arsenic poisoning, to which he discovered the antidote.