Department Name : Department of Chemistry

Under the act of 1920, the University of Dhaka opened its doors on the 1st of July 1921 in the then existing Government buildings situated in the picturesque surroundings of Ramna. The faculty of science of Dhaka University initially started with only three departments, namely Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. The Chemistry Department was located in the building adjacent to the main Curzon Hall to which, the old Intermediate College Building was added later on. The main Chemistry Building provided space for the Physical, Organic and Inorganic sections and the lecture gallery of the Department. The Intermediate College Building housed the Biochemistry, Soil Science, Biology Sections and the Jagamohan Paul, Physiological laboratories, all as part of the Department of Chemistry. A third storey was raised on the main building in 1962. In 1973 a new three storey building was constructed for the Department of Chemistry. The organic chemistry section was housed here. In order to meet the growing demands of the increasing number of students every year, a new multistoried building is being constructed opposite the University Play Ground. The new building is named the «Mukarram Hossain Khundker Biggan Bhaban» after the name of the late Professor Khundker, the illustrious Head of the Department of Chemistry from 1954 until his death in 1972. The Ground floor, the first floor, and the second floor of Khundker Biggan Bhaban have already been completed. A substantial part of the research facilities and a graduate teaching laboratory have been shifted to this building. When completed, this building is expected to have all the facilities required for a modern chemistry department.

The biology section which was a part of the Chemistry Department comprising both Botany and Zoology was made an independent Department in 1939. It was also shifted to a new building in the area. Subsequently, both the Botany and the Zoology sections were established as separate Departments in 1954. The Soil Science section was separated from the Chemistry Department in 1949 and raised to the status of an independent Department. Later, the Biochemistry Department also became independent of the Chemistry Department in the year 1957. In course of the next few years the Biochemistry Department also gave rise to the Department of Pharmacy as a new Department in 1963 and the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science in 1969. Later, the Department of Applied Chemistry was made independent of the Chemistry Department in 1972. Thus, over the years the expansion and rapid developments of the various branches of chemical sciences gave rise to the different disciplines of knowledge concomitant with the multifarious applications warranting the creation of separate Departments for the purpose of teaching and research on their own footing.

Head of the Department and Chairmen:

1. Professor Sir J.C. Ghosh was appointed as the first Head of the Department of Chemistry in 1921. Professor Ghosh was a great organiser. After he joined the Department he recruited a good number of able teachers for the Department of Chemistry who devoted much of their time in research. The serene and undisturbed atmosphere of the then Dhaka University was very much conducive towards the academic pursuit and as a result the teachers and the students of the Department could devote their time and energy to teaching and for the advancement of knowledge. Quite a good number of scholars received D.Sc.and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry awarded by the Dhaka University.

Professor Ghosh contributed much to the advancement of Physical Chemistry, particularly in the fields of Photochemistry and Electrochemistry. His theory on electrolytic phenomena found place in many text books under the title of «Ghosh"s theory of strong electrolytes». In 1939, he left the Department for taking up the appointment as Director of the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore.

2. Professor J.K. Chowdhury took over as the Head of the Department after Professor J.C. Ghosh left in 1939. He continued in that position till 1947. Professor Chowdhury first joined the Department as Reader in Analytical Chemistry after doing his Ph.D. from Berlin in 1925. He made significant contributions for the development of the Department of Chemistry. Late Professor M.H. Khundker was one of his favourite students. In 1947, Professor J.K. Chowdhury joined the Bose Institute at Calcutta as Professor. 

3. Dr. S.S. Guha-Sarker acted as the Head of the Department for sometime during 1947.

4. Professor J. Zernike joined the Department of Chemistry as Head towards the end of 1947. He came from Holland and was a devoted research scientist. His programme of research involved statistical thermodynamics, study of complex compounds, phase studies, magnetochemistry and vapour pressure of aqueous solutions. He designed and fabricated a number of instruments, such as, a special type of thermostat for use in studies of high pressure reactions, study of phases under different conditions of temperature and pressure. He devised a method for the synthesis of metal-carbonyl compounds. Professor Zernike also constructed a Curie-Cheneveau magnetic balance. Professor Zernike left the University of Dhaka in 1954 and Dr. Mukarram Hussain Khundker, then Reader in Chemistry, was appointed as the Head of the Department of Chemistry.

5. Professor Khundker was a brilliant product of the University of Dhaka. He did his Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England and returned home in early 1948 to serve his own alma mater. Dr Khundker joined the department as Reader in Chemistry in the same year. He was appointed Professor of Chemistry in 1960. Professor Khundker was a dedicated teacher and researcher. His contributions to various fields of chemistry included modification of cellulose and jute, electrochemistry, metal sulphides, non-metallic sulphur compounds, inorganic borates, organo-boron compounds, mineral processing, and analytical chemistry. Professor Khundker excellent in research and he was awarded the Pakistan Academy of Sciences Gold Medal for research in the Physical sciences. Professor Khundker continued to be the Head of the Department of Chemistry until his premature death on 30th November, 1972.

6. After the death of Professor Khundker, Professor Mofizuddin Ahmed took over as the Head of the Department. Prior to this appointment, Professor Ahmed served as the Vice-Chancellor of Jahangirnagar University. Professor Ahmed was an eminent organic chemist. His major fields of interest were organic synthesis, reaction mechanism, and chemistry of natural products. Professor Ahmed first joined the Department of Chemistry in 1948 and was made Professor in 1963. He continued as the Head of the Department of Chemistry until he was appointed as the Chairman of the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR). After the expiry of the tenure of his office as the Chairman of BCSIR, Professor Ahmed came back to the Department. He was appointed as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry in the year 1988 and continued in this position until his death in 1997.

7. After Professor Ahmed left the Department for joining the BCSIR, Professor M.A. Nawab was appointed the Chairman of the Department of Chemistry in November 1973. Professor Nawab was a noted physical chemist and organised research in the fields of reaction kinetics, surface chemistry, adsorption and colloids.

After Professor Nawab (1973-76), 9. Professor Syed Nurun Nabi (1976-79), 10. Professor Abdul Jabbar Mian (1979-1982), 11. Professor Syed Zahir Haider (1982-85), 12. Professor Mahabbat Ali (1985-1988), 13. Professor Abu Jafar Mahmood (1988-91), 14. Professor Mohammed Mosihuzzaman (1991-93), 15. Professor Mohammed Giasuddin Ahmed (1993-96), 16. Professor Mohammed Muhibur Rahman (1996-99), 17. Professor Rowshan J. Mannan (1999-2002), 18. Professor Abu Jafar Mahmood (2002-2005),  19. Professor A. M. Shafiqul Alam (2005-2008), 20. Professor Tajmeri S. A. Islam (2008-2011), 21. Professor Nishat Ahmed Pasha (2011-2012), 22. Professor Etmina Ahmed (2012-2014), 23. Professor Nilfar Nahar (2014-2017), 24. Professor Md. Azizur Rahman (2017-2020) and 25. Professor Tofail Ahmad Chowdhury (2020-2021) served their terms as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry. 26. Professor Md. Anwarul Islam is currently holding the office of the Chairman of the Department of Chemistry (2021 - ) 

On the basis of the proposal from the Department of Chemistry to commemorate the death of Professor Mukarram Hussain Khundkar, Head of the Department (1954-72) and Dean of the Faculty of Science, the Khundkar Memorial Lecture was instituted by the syndicate of the University of Dhaka in its meeting on the 4th October 1978.

The Department of Chemistry has been holding a Memorial Lecture every year since 1981 named as «Khundker Memorial Lecture» which was instituted by the University of Dhaka to perpetuate the memory of Late Professor Mokarram Hussain Khundker. A number of distinguished Professors from Asia, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia, U.K., Germany, Sweden, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, India have so far been invited by the University of Dhaka who came to the Department of Chemistry and delivered Memorial Lecture in their fields of specialization.

1st Lecture: 12 March 1981
Professor H.J. Emeleus CBE FRS
Emeritus Professor
University Chemical Laboratories Cambridge, UK.
Fluorine Containing Free Radicals.

2nd Lecture: 20 November 1981
Professor Heinz Hess
Institute of Inorganic Chemistry
Stuttgart University, West Germany
X-ray Crystallography in Biological Sciences.

3rd Lecture: 29 December 1982
Professor Debabrata Sen
Indian Institute of Technology
Coordination Complexes of Metal Biguanidines.

4th Lecture: 20 January 1984
Professor D.J. Waddington
Head of the Department of Chemistry
University of York, UK
Oxidation of Hydrocarbons: Some Recent Endeavours to Elucidate Mechanisms in the Gas and Liquid Phases.

5th Lecture: 13 April 1986
Dr. A.K. Mukherjee
Head of Applied Chemistry Division
Indian Jute Industries Research Association
Calcutta, India
Structure of Plant Polysaccharides with Special Reference to Bael (Angle Marmelos.)

6th Lecture: 26 January 1987
Professor Lars Kihlborg
Chairman of the Department of Inorganic Chemistry
(Arrhenius Laboratory), Stockholm University,
Stockholm, Sweden
The Impact of Electron Microscopy on Solid State Chemistry.

7th Lecture: 01 February 1988
Professor Bengt Lindberg
Professor Emeritus
Department of Organic Chemistry,
Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Structural Polysaccharide Chemistry.

8th Lecture: 15 January 1989
Professor Usha Ranjan Ghatak
Head of the Department of Organic Chemistry
Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science
Calcutta, India
Application of Diazo-ketones in the Synthesis of Polycyclic Natural Products.

9th Lecture: 13 January 1990
Professor Kiron Kumar Kundu
Physical Chemistry Section, Department of Chemistry
Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India
Transfer Energetic of Some Solutes from Water to Ionic and Non Ionic Solvents and the Structuredness of the Solvents.

10th Lecture: 29 April 1991
Professor V. Krishnan
Division of Chemical Sciences,
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Artificial Photosynthesis-Biomemitic Model Studies.

11th Lecture: 30 November 1991
Professor N. Sheppard FRS
Emeritus Professor, School of Chemical Sciences
University of East Anglia, England
Does Ethylene Rally Chemisorbed on Platinum that Way ? - a worked example of progress in a longer term vibrational spectroscopic study.

12th Lecture: 30 November 1993
Professor Torbjorn Helle
Laboratory of Chemical Engineering
The Norwegian Institute of Technology
The University of Trondheim, Norway
Recycled Fibres as Raw Material in the Paper Industry-Trends and Problems.

13th Lecture: 13 December 1994
Professor Yoshisuke Tsuda
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Kanazawa University, Japan
“Total Synthesis of Erythrina Alkaloids in Chiral Forms�

14th Lecture: 28 November 1996
Professor M. Iwaizumi
Institute for Chemical Reaction Science
Tohoku University, Japan
ENDOR studies of Copper(II) Complexes with Biological Interest.

15th Lecture: 19 November 1998
Professor Avijit Banerji
Department of Chemistry
University of Calcutta, Calcutta, India
Studies on 1,3-Dipolar Cycloaddition Reactions.

16th Lecture: 28 October, 2000
Professor Gernot Frenking
Fachbereich Chemie, Philips-Universität
Marburg, Germany
Insight into the nature of the Chemical Bond and
of Transition Metal Compounds.

17th Lecture: 06 January, 2002
Professor Hitoshi Ohtaki
Department of Applied Chemistry
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Ritsumeikan University, Japan
The effect of Temperature and Pressure on Hydrogen Bonds in Liquid Structure.

18th Lecture: 09 April, 2003
Professor Teiji Kato
Director, Satellite Venture-Businesses
Laboratory (SVBL), Faculty of Engineering
Utsunomiya University, Japan
Structures, Properties and Applications of
Monomolecular Films.

19th Lecture: 31 January, 2004
Professor Leiv K Sydnes
University of Bergen, Norway and President, IUPAC
From Cyclopropanes to Carbohydrate Mimics via 3,3,4,4-

20th Lecture: 03 April, 2005
Professor Masaaki Tabata
Department of Chemistry
Saga University, Japan.
Enhanced DNA Cleavage by Trace Metals, Metalloporphyrins and “Good’s Buffers�.

21st Lecture: March, 2006
Professor Muhammad Iqbal Bhanger
Director, National Center of Excellence in Analytical Chemistry, Sind, University, Pakistan.
“Solid Phase Extraction of Metal ions�

22nd Lecture: 12 March, 2007
Professor Jung-Il Jin
Department of Chemistry and Center for Electro-and Photo-Responsive Molecules, Korea University, Seoul.
23rd Lecture: 08 September, 2009
Professor Dr. Takehiko Yamoto
Department of Applied, Faculty of science and engineering,
Saga University, Japan.
Selective synthesis of polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Development of Blue Fluorescent OLED Materials. â€œChemical Vapor Deposition Polymerization of Polyconjugated Polymers and Applications to Nanoscienceâ€?.

Teaching staff:

There are 54 posts of teachers in the Department of Chemistry of which 38 teachers are currently working in the Department and 12 are on leave abroad for higher studies and other activities. Of the above posts, there are 23 Professors, 3 Associate Professors, 6 Assistant Professors and 2 Lecturers. Of the total number of teachers 30 are Ph.D. degree holders and 5 teachers are currently studying abroad for doctoral degrees. Of the total number of 50 teachers 13 are women. Amongst them 7 are Professors, 1 Associate Professors, 4 Assistant Professors and 1 Lecturer.

Apart from normal sanctioned posts a Chair was created in the Department of Chemistry as «Khundkar Memorial Chair». Professor S.Z. Haider was appointed to this Chair in 1986 for the first time. The Department of Chemistry was glorified by the association of Late Dr. Mohammed Qudrat-i-Khuda who served the Department as a Visiting Professor during the period in 1976-77. In addition a number of distinguished Professors from Europe and the United States came to the Department of Chemistry from time to time as Visiting Professors on short terms.

Number of students and Degrees offered by the Department of Chemistry:

The Department of Chemistry runs courses for the B.Sc. Honours, M.S., M. Phil and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry. Besides it caters for the minor courses in Chemistry for the various Departments under the Faculties of Science and Biological Sciences. There are about 1018 students (including minor) in the Department, of whom 20 percent are women.

Research Activities in the Department of Chemistry:

The teachers and students of the Department have been carrying out research in different areas covering both the fundamental and applied aspects of Chemistry. Currently, 54 M.S., 12 M. Phil and 7 Ph.D. students are doing research in the Department. Since the inception of Bangladesh. 32 students received Ph.D. degrees in different branches of Chemistry. The following are some of the broad fields of research in Chemistry which are currently being pursued in the Department.

  • Surface Chemistry and Adsorption phenomena.
  • Reaction Kinetics.
  • Photochemistry.
  • Synthetic Organic Chemistry.
  • Organic Reaction Mechanism.
  • Natural Products and Carbohydrates.
  • Organometallic Chemistry.
  • Jute and Cellulose.
  • Medicinal Chemistry.
  • Pesticide residues.
  • Inorganic Polymers including Phosphorus-Nitrogen, Sulphur-Nitrogen
    and Silicon Compounds.
  • X-ray crystallographic studies and solid state Chemistry.
  • Co-ordination Chemistry.
  • Catalysis.
  • Analytical Chemistry

    • Development of Analytical techniques.
    • Analysis of Water, Soil and bio-logical samples.
    • Study of metal-drug interactions

  • Environmental Chemistry

    • Monitoring of soil, water and air pollution.
    • Development of pollutants remedial methods from water.
    • Characterization of different organic pollutants present in water and soil.

  • Electrochemistry and Electroanalytical Methods.
  • Polymer Chemistry.
  • Bioinorganic Chemistry.

    Instrumental facilities available in the Department of Chemistry.

    The following instrumental facilities are available in the Department of Chemistry.

  • X-ray powder diffraction.
  • Infra red spectroscopy.
  • Atomic absorption spectroscopy.
  • UV-Visible spectroscopy.
  • Gas-liquid chromatography (GLC).
  • High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
  • High vacuum techniques.
  • High temperature furnaces.
  • Computer facilities (Personal Computers).
  • Equipment for electrochemical measurements.
  • Equipment for photochemical measurements.
  • Freeze-dryers.
  • Electrophoresis.
  • Air Pollutant sampler.