Désiré Van Monckhoven's photographic inventions included an enlarging apparatus, in 1869, an improvement in the Drummond light, in 1869, and a collodion dryplate process, in 1871.
From 1878 to 1979 Désiré devised a new method of developing silver bromide gelatin emulsions and introduced the use of ammonia for sensitizing an emulsion without heat or cooking. His researches into the carbon printing process in the late 1870s led to his establishment of factories for manufacturing carbon tissue and gelatin. Van Monckhoven later made gelatin dry plates and sold gelatin emulsions to other dry-plate manufacturers. A prolific writer, the scientist published his first book at age eighteen. One of his last books, Lehrbuch der Photographie, appeared in French, German, Italian and Russian editions.