James William McBain

James William McBain (1882-1953) was a Canadian colloid chemist whose main focus of research was in soap solutions, and especially in their use as electrolytic conductors.

Born in New Brunswick, McBain studied at the University of Toronto and, after brief spells at Leipzig and Heidelberg, moved to the University of Bristol in 1906. Lord Leverhulme created a new professorship for him there in 1919. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1923, and three years later, went to the USA to become professor at Stanford, California.

Much of his research was devoted to the study of the behaviour of soaps. McBain discovered that the surface phase in simple soap solutions is multi-layered. The apparatus he used for identifying them, the McBain-Bakr spring balance, was used to record 'sorption,' an all-embracing term for the adsorption of gases and vapours by solids.

Sources: Wikipedia and cartage.org.

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