Carl Auer von Welsbach, an Austrian scientist and inventor, had a talent for discovering techniques for purifying rare earth elements and using these elements to create valuable products. A graduate of the University of Vienna and the University of Heidelberg, he is particularly well known for inventing the gas mantle, which brought light to the streets of Europe in the late 19th century. He also invented the metal filament light bulb and the flint used in modern lighters.
In 1885, Welsbach patented a gas mantle which he called Auerlicht, using a chemical mixture of magnesium oxide, lanthanum oxide, and yttrium oxide. To produce a mantle, guncotton was impregnated with this mixture and then heated; as the cotton burned away, it left a solid but fragile ash which glowed brightly when heated.
Carl Auer von Welsbach was born in Vienna, Austria. He attended the University of Vienna and the University of Heidelberg. In 1920 he received the Siemens-Ring (considered to be among the highest ranking awards for technical sciences in Germany) as his name had become a synonym for the rise of artificial lightning.