Periodic Table History

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This is a summary of the history of Periodic Table. The background of the discoveries of scientific elements is deeply linked to the development of the periodical tables. Several breakthroughs were achieved in a variety of fields throughout the Renaissances, the Medieval Times, and the Industrial’s Revolutions. The development of periodic table started in 1800. Many scientists in different ages attempted for classifying the elements in different way. In the earlier, the order of the elements throughout the periodical chart was determined by their growing atomic weights. Later, scientists realized that the atomic number was a better ordering criterion. For instance, tellurium and iodine naturally fell into place, while they would have shifted if they were ordered strictly by atomic weights. The roots of the periodical table that serves as the cornerstone of modern chemistry are explored in detail in the biography of the periodical chart. The early iterations of the table would be unrecognizable to us today (Scerri, 2006). The first version of the table was created by Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist and educator. During that period, he had been engaged on a chemical textbooks for the St Petersburg’s Academy. The table was further developed by Mendeleev throughout his life. The modern periodic table is a product of centuries of work by chemists. The goal of a periodic table is to help scientists predict the chemical behavior of substances. The development of an improved knowledge of the composition of atoms was spurred on by atomic scholars thanks to the periodical calendar. Thomson’s 1904 model of atom contained a number of concentric electron shells around the nucleus. He came to the conclusion that the way electrons are arranged in an atom’s outermost shell is what defines the characteristics of that element. Because of its long and eventful history, the periodical chart has undergone a great deal of evolution. After discovering the periodic table, Mendeleev and other scientists worked to organize and describe them. In 1787, the French’s scientist Antoine’s Lavoisier compiled a catalog of the periodic table’s first 33 elements. Although the list was one-dimensional, modern periodic tables display all known and unknown elements. The periodical chart has evolved into a symbolic representation of icon’s culture. However, the actual process of building a periodic table remains controversial. As a result, the process has become a form of art in itself. But in the end, it is a useful resource for researchers in many different fields (Schindler, 2008).


1. Contribution of Dobereiner in Periodic Table


A Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner is one of the greatest contributors to the modern periodic table. Dobereiner was a German chemist who made a number of important observations that helped to shape the periodic table that we know today. In particular, his work on triads, or groups of three elements with similar properties, paved the way for the modern periodic table. His experiments showed that the importance of sorting chemical elements by relative atomic weights was a necessity for the development of our modern-day periodic table (Scerri, 2011).

1.1. Law of Triads


Dobereiner first grouped the elements into groups of three. Because of his technique, the value of the element in the centre was set to be equivalent to the averages of the values of the 1st and 3rd items. This arrangement was later followed by Mendeleev. Dobereiner’s work was influential because it made it easier to compare elements side-by-side. The Dobereiner Tritones, which are groupings of 3 elements that have similar chemical characteristics, are what brought the greatest attention to Dobereiner’s Periodical Chart. Though Dobereiner’s Periodic Table was the first to organize elements, it was still incomplete, as it failed to explain the relationship between elements.


Figure 1: Law of Triads


1.2. Oldest scientific tables


Johann Dobereiner, a German chemist, suggested that the elements be grouped into groups of three elements with similar properties. His concept was never expanded, but he did manage to find triads in some parts of the table, and they still appear on the modern periodic table. The Dobereiner-Dornermann Periodic Table is one of the oldest scientific tables in the world. As the initial attempt, it ranked each element according to its atomic weight. This table, called a periodic table, was published in 1865.


Figure 2: Dobereiner-Dornermann Periodic Table


2. Dennis H. Rouvray


Another pioneering researcher in the field of chemistry, Dennis H. Rouvray, a professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado, has made significant contributions to the periodic table. He wrote an article in the journal Chemical Intelligencer describing the complexities of the periodic table. His work laid the groundwork for the current periodic table. Using a periodical table, students can predict the behavior of elements and learn about their properties. His articles have appeared in journals such as Chemical Intelligencer and Computing and Mathematics with Applications (Pyykko, 2012).


3. Contribution of J Newland in Periodic Table


John Alexander Reina Newlands was an English chemist. He was born on November 26, 1837. He was responsible for defining the law of octaves and arranging the elements by their atomic weights (Scerri, 2015). Newlands’ table also contained some errors and anomalies. It was published in 1864. His work was not accepted by his peers, however, and his paper was rejected by the Royal Society of Chemistry (Hodder, 2018).


3.1. Law of octaves


Newland classified the elements into groups of seven and found that every eight elements had the properties similar to the first one of the series. He called these groups Octaves Newlands’ Law of Octaves was an early attempt to assign an atomic number to each element, but it met with resistance within the scientific community. He saw a similar pattern between chlorine and fluorine, and saw similarities between the two groups.


Figure 3: Law of octaves


3.2. Basis


The periodic-calendar is a chart that lists all of the elements, with the atomic weights of each element growing from left to right as you go down the table. It is not a complete classification, as Newlands only grouped the elements that were known at the time. Hence, the table is incomplete, as it only lists 37 out of 60 elements. Newlands’ work was based on the study of early elements and his periodic table predicted the periodic law. Newlands’ table was published five years before Mendeleev, and it benefited from revised atomic weights. The table contained twelve elements. The lightest was lithium, and the heaviest was chlorine. The atomic mass of these elements increased with increasing atomic number.


3.3. Drawback


The table did not accurately group the elements based on their atomic mass, and it had a few other flaws. For example, it grouped similar elements together, but did not account for the heavier elements. Furthermore, it left no room for future elements. The table did not gain widespread acceptance, and many scientists did not accept it. The only problem Newlands’ table had was that it placed the known elements in groups that did not correspond to their properties. For example, iron was placed in a group with sulfur and oxygen, which made no sense.


3.4. Other contributions


Not only was Newland’s responsible for the development of the periodical tables, as well as also contributed significant advances to the science of chemistry. He was also active in teaching. He taught at St Saviour’s Grammar School, the School of Medicine for Women, and City of London College. He had been a remarkable chemical property analyzer, and he contributed significantly to the understanding of the connection between atomics’ weights as well as the characteristics of the elements. His work was controversial at first, but it has since become a fundamental concept in modern chemical theory.


4. Contribution of Lother Meyer in Periodic Table


Lother Meyer was a German chemist who contributed to the Periodic Table. Meyer’s work is considered the first periodic table, which categorizes elements based on their valencies. The table he published was superior to those of his predecessors, but unfortunately, it was not published until Mendeleev published his own table in 1870 (Scerri, 2019).


4.1. Modern Theories of Chemistry


Meyer was a brilliant scientist who helped create the Periodic Table. His work on the periodic arrangement of chemical elements was published in Modern Theories of Chemistry, which included an updated table of the elements. He published it without a diagram, but this version of the table would not be available until 25 years later, which was when De Chancourtois published his spiral table and graph.


Figure 4: Lother Meyer Graph


4.2. University of Heidelberg


Meyer’s contributions to the Periodic Table are often overlooked in favor of his more famous collaborator, Dmitri Mendeleev. Nevertheless, he made advances that contributed to the current perception of the Periodic Table. Meyer and Mendeleev both studied under the same teacher at the University of Heidelberg, Robert Busen. They also met at a meeting of chemists, the first one held in the world.


4.3. Qualitative properties


Meyer’s graph shows that the atomic weights of various elements increase with increasing volume. He made use of the fact that the number of atoms in an element equaled Avogadro’s number. The graph also showed that the periodic relationship was evident in other qualitative properties of the elements, including their ductility, volatility, and electrochemical behavior.


4.4. Chemical News


The table was not finished. The periodic law had been proposed many decades before, but Newlands appeared doubtful about its importance. A year later, Newlands published a response to a pseudonymous reader in the Chemical News. The reader had suggested that the atomic weights of certain elements were eight times the number of atoms. Newlands’ response argued that this theory was not supported.


5. De Chancourtois’s Periodic table


The first idea for a periodic table was made in 1862, which marked the beginning of the table’s evolution of “A-E-B” de Chancourtois, who was building on the work of Stanislao Cannizzaro. Using a cylinder with a circumference of 16 units, he plotted the atomic weights of the elements onto it. Eventually, he published a table that arranged the elements in groups of eight. His work was a precursor to those of John Newlands, who published his own table the following year. His work helped establish the periodic law, which still governs chemical properties (Torrens & Castellano, 2020).


5.1. Geological classification


His work was published in 1862 in the Comptes Rendus. However, it had little effect on the evolution of the periodic system. Originally, de Chancourtois’ work was based on a geological classification and did not include the atomic weights of the elements. In addition, de Chancourtois did not include the octaves that we know today.


5.2. Concept of periodicity


The de Chancourtois’s Periodic table is the first to introduce the concept of periodicity. The table was created in a spiral shape and the atomic weights of each element were plotted on the outside of the spiral. One complete turn in the spiral equates to a change of 16 atomic weights. This arrangement allowed scientists to predict the stoichiometry of different elements.

Figure 5: De Chancourtois’s Periodic table


5.3. Unique system of arrangement


The contributions he has made to the scientific tables is tremendous. Not only did he discover the periodic system, but he also made significant contributions to its development. He created a model device that organize the elements in a distinctive way. This unique system of element arrangement was adopted by scientists in the United States and throughout the world. De Chancourtois’s contribution to the periodic table was the first paper to recognize the periodic law. His method of listing the elements was based on the idea that the atomic weights of elements increase in predictable intervals. He also noted that elements with the same atomic weight shared similar properties.




Despite its revolutionary nature, de Chancourtois’s Periodic table did not receive widespread attention from chemists and physicists. He had published his work in a geological pamphlet, which did not appeal to many chemists. It wasn’t until Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table that de Chancourtois’s work gained widespread scientific acceptance. De Chancourtois’s periodic table is not entirely accurate. Some elements have incorrect atomic weights, and many are missing. This indicates that there may have been undiscovered elements at that time.


6. Stanislao Cannizzaro


Cannizzaro is credited with developing a method for measuring the atomic mass, which allowed chemists to search for periodic trends in the atomic masses of different elements. He discovered that the atomic weight of an element was related to its properties (Pyykkö, 2021).


6.1. Avogadro’s hypothesis


In 1860, chemists from around Europe met in Karlsruhe, Germany, with the intention of standardizing chemistry and picking strict definitions for chemical terms. One of the speakers at the conference was Italian chemist Stanislao Cannizzaro, who presented Avogadro’s hypothesis on diatomic molecules. His work left a deep impression on two chemists who attended the conference – Mendeleev and Julius Lothar Meyer. They later worked together to develop the periodic law.


6.2. Uniform system of weights


The first period of the periodic table is named after an Italian scientist, Stanislao Cannizzaro. His work in 1858 established atomic weights for all the elements. Previously, equivalent weights were used for various elements, which varied depending on their oxidation state. Cannizzaro’s work made a more precise and uniform system of weights.


6.3. International chemical congress


Cannizzaro’s paper was published in a local Pisa journal and was later republished as a pamphlet. In addition, he went to Karlsruhe in 1860 to take part in the first regional and global scientific conference hosted there. This conference was an important step in the process of developing the periodic table.


7. William Odling periodic table


Odling contributed to the creation of the periodic table in the 1860s, but it took many years before his work was accepted by the scientific community. Several chemists were working on the project at the time, including Dmitri Mendeleev, Alexander-Emile Beguyer de Chancourtois, John Newlands, Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs, and Lothar Meyer. While Odling’s table was the first to use the periodic law, subsequent versions quickly replaced it. Odling’s work was regarded as superior to Newlands’. He remarked that the weight of a periodic element increases on a scale of 16 to 48, and was able to isolate transition metals in his work. His periodic table also included gaps which Newlands did not know about, suggesting that new elements were hidden beneath (Schmiermund, 2022).

Figure 6: Odling periodic table


8. Charles Janet’s Periodic Table


Charles Janet arranged the chemical elements according to their orbital fillings, creating what is now called the periodic table. Janet’s version of the table is different from the standard one, since he moved the s-block to the right side of the table, putting helium at the top of group 2 because it has a filled s orbital (Scerri, 2006).


8.1. Scientific community


The periodical chart that was created by Janet is that which is utilised the quite often in the scientific world. It represents the arrangement of elements 104 through 118. Additionally, the results of his investigation show that there are consistent patterns respectively the locations of electrons in orbit around the nuclei. The periodic table was first published in 1928. The actinide elements were not discovered until many years later.


8.2. Difference between Janet’s and standard periodic table


Charles Janet’s Periodic Table differs from the standard periodic table in several ways. First, he arranged the elements from left to right, in increasing atomic number and increasing energy level. Secondly, he shifted the s block to the right. This arrangement makes it easier for students to understand the electron configuration. This way, helium is at the top of group 2 because it has filled the s orbital


8.3. Left-step


Janet constructed several versions of his table. The “left-step” version of the table places element 103 directly below lutetium, scandium, and yttrium. However, this table was not widely accepted and his work was not well received, as it was written in French. Also, the table’s construction was inconvenient, as it was not easily reproduced on a single sheet of paper.


8.4. Difference from the electronic periodic table


Janet’s left-step periodic table was first created in 1928. It differs from the common periodic table in that it moves the s-block to the right side of the table. It also differs from the electronic periodic table, which uses atomic numbers. While the electronic periodic table uses atomic numbers, the Janet left-step version relies on atomic numbers and electronic configuration.

Figure 7: Left step table Janet


8.5. Scientific discoveries


This periodic table has also been the basis of many scientific discoveries. In the last century, scientists were able to discover that the periodic table is useful for understanding various phenomena. Students, for instance, might benefit from learning about the construction of various components with the aid of this tool. In addition to this, it assists students in comprehending the reason for their being as well as the ways in which they might have an effect on our day-to-day lives.


8.6. Spiral tables


The Periodic Table was discovered in 1927 by Charles Janet. It is more popular among physicists. Many spiral tables attempt to follow a theoretical foundation. Among them are Edward G. Mazurs’ spiral table, which is similar to the standard periodic table. However, the modified version does not have the same visual impact as the standard one.


8.7. Modifications


The left-step periodic table, designed by Charles Janet, was later modified by E Mazurs in 1969. In this version, helium is added as a fourth element, placing it among the alkaline earths. It also relocates hydrogen to the top of the halogens. It retains the basic form of the left-step table but loses the perfect atomic number triad.


9. Edward G. Mazurs’ spiral table


The Advert Mazurs spiral table was named after the inventor, Edward Mazurs, a Latvian chemist who produced a hand-illustrated book containing 700 periodic formulas and 146 classifications (Schindler, 2008). The spiral table is one of the oldest and most widely used chemistry reference tables. Mazurs used a left-step table in his design (Pyykko, 2012).

Figure 8: Mazurs’graphical representation of periodic table

Figure 9: Mazurs’ spiral table

10. Mendeleev’s Periodic Table


Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev is best known as the inventor and chemist who created the Periodic Table of Elements. He was also the author of the Periodic Law (Hodder, 2018). His innovation has fundamentally altered the way that we comprehend the constituent parts. The periodic table is now a very important tool for scientists and inventors (Torrens & Castellano, 2020).


10. 1. Laws of matter


Mendeleev’s Periodic table was a brilliant piece of work, as it validated the existence of atoms and hinted at subatomic structure. It also anticipated the mathematical apparatus underpinning the laws of matter, which helped revolutionize chemical science. The periodic table has come to symbolize the constituents of matter and the principled rationality of science.


10.2. Periods and groups


Mendeleev’s Periodic table was first conceived as a textbook for chemistry. It arranged known elements into rows called “periods.” The rows and columns are called “groups” and “families,” with some groups consisting of elements with similar properties. Each element in the periodic table has a melting and boiling point.


10. 3. Unknown elements


During the year 1869, Dmitri-Mendeleev’s published the 1st ever periodical table, which represented a scientific effort. He described the properties of the elements based on their atomic mass. This enabled it feasible to make predictions about the characteristics of elements whose identities were unknown. The publication of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table in 1869 marked a significant turning point in the development of modern chemistry.


10. 4. Note cards


The elements are presented in the tables in ascending order of their respective atomic masses. Mendeleev wrote down the properties of each element on note cards, arranging them vertically in columns ranging from lower to higher. The elements were then organized into family groups. It took many years for Mendeleev to organize the elements and create a periodic table.


10. 5. Swapping of elements


The order of the elements in Mendeleev’s Periodic table was not strictly consistent with the order of their atomic mass. Some elements were swapped around, and some were even swapped from one column to the next. This meant that the elements were not in their atomic mass order, and therefore, they were placed in order of increasing “atomic number.” The atomic number is the number of positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons in each atom.


10. 6. Gaps for elements


Mendeleev’s Periodic table contains some gaps for elements that were not discovered. The missing elements in his periodic table had not been discovered yet, and Mendeleev predicted that they would be discovered in the future. He went so far as to forecast that the undiscovered element will be a malleable metals with an atomic mass of 68. Eventually, this element was discovered in 1875.

Figure 10: Mendeleev’s Periodic table


10. 7. Complaints from other chemists


Mendeleev’s original table had atomic weights that were inaccurate and thus left open spaces for elements not present. This led to complaints from other chemists that it did not allow for new elements to be included. Some investigators openly mocked his ideas. One of them, George Carey Foster, asked him about ordering the elements alphabetically to avoid accidental coincidences. Newlands was not satisfied with the proposed arrangement and argued for arranging the elements by atomic number rather than atomic weight.


11. Mosley’s Periodic Table


The history of Mosley’s Periodic Table goes back to the 19th century. In 1914, Moseley published a famous paper that analyzed 30 elements from the K series, from aluminium to silver, and from the L series, from zinc to gold. He determined the spectral lines of each element and used those lines to determine the order of the elements in the periodic table (Pyykkö, 2021).

Figure 11: K, L and M Series


Henry Moseley’s discoveries changed the way scientists look for new forms of basic substances. His work resulted in a new, better organized periodic table, and led to the discovery of four new chemical elements. Born in 1887 in Weymouth, England, Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley’s discoveries were instrumental in solving several issues in chemistry.


11. 1. Aufbau principle


While most periodic tables were ordered by their atomic weights, Moseley’s table was based on atomic numbers. This made the table more precise, as successive elements have higher nuclear charges. This led to the creation of the Aufbau principle, an important principle in atomic studies.


11. 2. Atomic weights and chemical properties


The atomic weights of elements didn’t always correspond to their properties. The new table did not account for the difference between the atomic weights and the chemical properties of the elements, and thus many chemists speculated that there were new elements between hydrogen and helium. But Moseley’s work put an end to many debates about the periodic table.


11. 3. Mosley’s publication


A decade after Mosley’s publication, the discovery of three new elements has occurred. These elements are now known as neodymium and technetium. They are both radioactive elements. Despite their names, these elements were not pure at that time. They were only discovered later in the twentieth century.


11. 4. Density and discovery of the neutron


In addition to the mass of the elements, the periodic table shows the density of each atom in each group. The atomic mass of the elements in each row increases with increasing atomic mass. This arrangement was confirmed by further discoveries of the nature of atoms. This eventually resulted in the development of the current periodic table. Since the discovery of the neutron, the structure of the periodic table has undergone many modifications and additions. Some elements are now artificially produced and have taken up their proper places in the table.

Figure 12: Mosley’s Periodic Table


11. 5. Moseley’s atomic number system


The advent of the atomic number systems, which occurred in the early 19th century, is often regarded as one of the most significant leaps forward in the history of science. It changed the way scientists looked for new forms of basic substances. Henry Moseley, a young English physicist, was responsible for this breakthrough. His findings paved the way for the construction of the periodical table and contributed to the solution of a great deal of chemistry’s issues.


11. 5. 1. Discovery of new elements


In the early nineteenth century, scientists were unsure of how to classify elements. They were unsure of their exact weights, and the periodic table was not always accurate. The discovery of the atomic number system allowed scientists to distinguish elements by their atomic number. It also allowed them to predict the discovery of new elements, allowing chemistry to flourish. In today’s world, the characteristics of elements are often described by using the scheme of atomics numbers.


11. 5. 2. Moseley law


Moseley studied different elements and measured their X-ray spectra. He identified the appropriate lines in the spectrum by the application of the laws of diffractions. This allowed him to establish a mathematical relationship between atomic numbers and their corresponding wavelengths. The Moseley’s law describes this correlation between variables.


11. 5. 3. X-ray method


Moseley’s breakthrough was so revolutionary that it revolutionized the field of chemistry. He did not want to join the war and sacrifice his own life. He died of a bullet to the head on the battlefield in Gallipoli, Turkey, but others continued his work and applied the X-ray method to the elements. As a direct consequence of this, seven newly unknown elements were found in the region spanning hydrogen’s and uranium’s.


12. The Modern Periodic Table


In 1964, Moseley proposed an improved version of the table. He also suggested that elements be ordered according to their atomic number. The atomic number, corresponds to the number of protons in an atom. The atomic number is responsible for the chemical properties of an element. After Mendeleyev’s discovery of the element phosphorus in 1869, scientists began to organize the elements by their atomic mass. In addition to calculating their mass, scientists discovered their chemical properties by methodically exposing individual elements to chemical solutions. The modern periodic table was a result of the hard work of many scientists (Schmiermund, 2022).

Figure 13: Modern periodic table


12. 1. Basis of modern periodic table


The Modern Periodic Law is the basis for a modern periodic table and explains how elements are organized on the periodic table. So, every element has a unique atomic mass, as well as an atomic number, and it also changes in terms of its characteristics throughout time. These differences are known as periodic gradation.


12. 2. Modern Periodic Law


According to the Modern Periodic Law, physical properties of an element depend on its atomic number. This fundamental property determines its classification in the periodic table. According to the Modern Periodical Law, every element has features that repeat at regular intervals and that these traits are a factor of the atomic number in a periodic fashion. Because of this, the chemical characteristics of elements of the same kind are very comparable to one another.


12. 3. Column and rows


The modern periodic table consists of 18 different groups across the columns and 7 distinct eras across the rows. One particular component is shown in each column. In addition, elements that belong to the same group share similar chemical and physical properties and the same number of outer electrons. For instance, every element in Group 18 is a tasteless, odourless, and colourless gas. Additionally, any substance that belongs to Group 1 is a highly reactive substance that, when combined with water, may produce an explosive reaction.


12. 4. Organization of electrons


Groups are based on the organization of electrons in the outer shell of atoms. The lengths of the periods are determined by the ‘principal quantum number’ (n), one of the four fundamental quantum numbers. For each element, the period corresponds to the number of shells.


12. 5. Evolution


The modern periodic table is still undergoing evolution. The first seven rows of the table are complete with the known 118 elements, while the heaviest elements are still subject to chemical characterization. This means that the heaviest elements must be synthesized in laboratories. This is why some scientists disagree on the correct placement of certain elements.


12. 6. Uses


The modern periodic table has many uses in science and chemistry, and it is an iconic object that consolidates much of the knowledge we have about chemistry. It is a staple of the walls of almost every chemical laboratory and lecture hall. There is no other scientific icon like it. It is a graphical depiction of the way in which the various components interact with one another.




A comprehensive perception of the world can’t be achieved without first mastering the periodic table. The periodic table is a renowned icon of science, and is a crucial piece of information about chemistry. It can be found on the walls of practically every lecture hall and chemical laboratory. No other tool is as powerful or as iconic, in the field of chemistry. Its development is linked to numerous scientific achievements and discoveries. The early periodic table was based on a list of substances that were not easily broken down into simpler components. The German physicist Johann Wolfang Dobereiner, also named the table after the element tellurium. In 1862, he created an early version of the periodic table. Initially, he classified elements by increasing atomic weight. Later, he recognized that similar elements stacked up vertically. In the early nineteenth century, scientists were not even aware of sub-atomic particles. The development of X-rays changed the way scientists searched for new forms of basic substances. The discovery of a new element ensured its place in history. In addition to that, Moseley’s x-ray technique helped scientists experimentally identify the elements in the periodic table. Ernest Rutherford’s made the groundbreaking discovery in 1911 that atoms possess electrons that have negatively electrical charges. He also showed that atoms had a positively charged component. This discovery prompted the periodic table to include the concept of atomic charge. He and Henry Moseley proved that atomic numbers were not arbitrary, and they were based on the mass of the atom. The modern periodic system is the culmination of a long series of scientific developments.




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