The history of the institute goes back as far as 1870 when the I. and the II. Chemical were founded. Before that, Chemistry was taught only at the medical faculty at the University of Vienna. Research in those days was restricted to topics which could be seen as immediately beneficial to medical science.
After the establishment of independent chemical laboratories, the main emphasis was put on Organic Chemistry, particular attention was paid to the studies of herbal ingredients. Inspired by Josef Loschmidt's lectures on physical-chemical topics, the main stress was shifted to Physical Chemistry several years later. One of the most renowned scientists in those days was Carl Auer von Welsbach, a pioneer in the field of Inorganic-Chemistry research. After his promotion in Heidelberg, he returned to Vienna. In the course of his studies, he invented the gas mantle, the Cer-iron - base of the flintstone - and the osmium-lamp - predecessor of the currently used tungsten lamp. He also discovered the rare earth elements Praseodym, Neodym, Ytterbium and Lutetium.
A new building
In 1909 the relocation of the various institutes of Chemistry to the building complex in Währinger Straße - Boltzmanngasse - Strudlhofgasse, which also houses the major part of the faculty of Chemistry today, started. Up until then the institutes were based in several different buildings throughout Vienna. The beginning of the First World War delayed this process. It was only in 1924 that all the departments of the institutes of Chemistry had finally moved into the new building.
A new organisation
During the first years, both Institutes of Chemistry had one department for Analytical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry. In the commission meeting in 1957, the idea to reorganize the institute structure completely was developed. This was then carried out based on the model of the structure at most domestic and foreign universities. The reorganization took place in several stages. One of the consequences was that the names I. and II. Institute of Chemistry were changed in 1959. Three new institutes were established: Analytical Institute, Organic-Chemistry Institute and Inorganic- and Physical-Chemistry Institute. In 1960 the latter was split into the Institute for Physical Chemistry and the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry.
Institute of Inorganic Chemistry
The first head of the institute, Alfred Brukl (1960-1965) put the main emphasis on the chemistry of the rare earth elements, following the tradition of Auer von Welsbach. During the following years, a successful inorganic-preparative research work developed, which specifically resulted in the discovery of numerous novel compounds and substance classes - specifically the spontaneously combusting rare earth chlorido-bis-boranates, the up to then unknown, trisboranates and the water free rare earth cyanides. Many scientific papers were also devoted to the extremely labour-intensive area of rare earth separation and ultrapurification. When Kurt Komarek became head of the institute, he shifted the main focus of research at the institute. Solid-state chemistry and the chemistry of liquid alloys became the major areas of research. From this research work, today's area of materials chemistry developed. In the late 1960s, during the work period of Thomas Schönfeld as head of the institute, the additional area of radiochemistry - an area which is of growing significance to environmental chemistry - was developed. After the calling of Bernhard Keppler as head of the institute in 1996, bioinorganic chemistry was established as a new field of research. In 1998, Herbert Ipser was awarded the second full professorship at the institute for the area of materials chemistry. At the end of 2004, the institute was split into two separate units, the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry with Bernhard Keppler as head and the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry/Materials Chemistry with Herbert Ipser as head. The Institute of Inorganic Chemistry currently concentrates on selected parts of bioinorganic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, environmental- and radiochemistry, synthetic chemistry, analytics, bioanalytics, cell biology and first and foremost with the development of novel tumor therapeutics and substances for diagnosis.