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Keywords:

  • environmental chemistry;
  • history of chemistry;
  • iodine;
  • Mössbauer spectroscopy;
  • X-ray spectroscopy

Abstract

Iodine was discovered as a novel element in 1811 during the Napoleonic Wars. To celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of this event we reflect on the history and highlight the many facets of iodine research that have evolved since its discovery. Iodine has an impact on many aspects of life on Earth as well as on human civilization. It is accumulated in high concentrations by marine algae, which are the origin of strong iodine fluxes into the coastal atmosphere which influence climatic processes, and dissolved iodine is considered a biophilic element in marine sediments. Iodine is central to thyroid function in vertebrates, with paramount implications for human health. Iodine can exist in a wide range of oxidation states and it features a diverse supramolecular chemistry. Iodine is amenable to several analytical techniques, and iodine compounds have found widespread use in organic synthesis. Elemental iodine is produced on an industrial scale and has found a wide range of applications in innovative materials, including semiconductors—in particular, in solar cells.