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Harry George Drickamer (1918Ц2002) Electronic Phenomena in Condensed Matter at High Pressure.

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Obituary
Figure 1. Harry G. Drickamer (Copyright Dept. Chemical
Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA).
Harry George Drickamer
(1918 – 2002): Electronic
Phenomena in Condensed Matter
at High Pressure
Over the past forty years, the application of high pressures has proven to be a
powerful and nearly indispensable tool
in chemistry, physics, geology, and biology research. Ever-increasing sophistication in experimental high-pressure
techniques coupled with new theoretical
developments have resulted in important advances in the understanding of
the molecular structures, electronic
properties, dynamics, and reactivity of
condensed matter. One of the towering
pioneers of this development was Harry G. Drickamer (Figure 1), Professor of
Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and
Physics at the University of Illinois in
Urbana-Champaign, who died of a
stroke on May 6, 2002 in Urbana,
Illinois, at the age of 83.
Harry Drickamer was born on November 19, 1918 in Cleveland, Ohio.
After graduating from high school he
attended Indiana University for a short
period. He then transferred to the University of Michigan, where he received
his bachelor2s degree in 1941, his master2s degree in chemical engineering in
1942, and his doctorate in chemical
engineering in 1946. That same year he
joined the University of Illinois in
Urbana-Champaign, where he was appointed, in recognition of the breadth of
his research, Center of Advanced Study
Professor of Chemical Engineering,
Chemistry, and Physics, the highest
accolade bestowed by the University
on its faculty members.
850
During his more than 50 years of
research in Urbana, he developed the
concept that pressure can change the
chemical and physical properties of
condensed matter by its effect on the
electronic orbitals, a method he called
“Pressure Tuning Spectroscopy”. Exploitation of this method led to his
discovery in the late 1950s of a wide
variety of electronic transitions in solids,
including insulator – metal transitions
for six elements and more than 30 covalent and ionic compounds, metal – semiconductor transitions for the elements calcium, strontium, and ytterbium, (which are metals at one atmosphere and which become semiconductors at high pressure), and s – d or 4f – 5d
transitions of the conducting electrons in alkali and rare-earth metals,
respectively. In the 1970s he also investigated closely related pressure-induced
changes to magnetic properties, such as
high-spin – low-spin transitions and
paramagnetic – ferromagnetic
transitions in ferrous compounds and in iron.
Furthermore, he discovered electronic
transitions with chemical consequences,
such as the stabilization of reactive
charge-transfer states of electron donor – acceptor complexes at high pressures and the pressure-induced conversion of photochromic into thermochromic materials. In the 1980s his research
expanded to high-pressure investigations in protein chemistry, organic photochemistry, and the efficiency of luminescence devices.
Harry Drickamer2s style of experimental research kept him in close contact with theoretical work. In this way,
he was able to provide clear-cut and
unequivocal tests for a large number of
theories, including the ligand-field theory, van Vleck2s theory of spin-flip transitions, Mulliken2s theory of bonding in
electron donor – acceptor complexes,
the F>rster – Dexter theory of energy
transfer in phosphors, and van Vleck2s
theory of high-spin – low-spin transitions. He also developed successful tests
for theories on the efficiency of phosphor and laser materials, including II-VI
and III-V compounds with zinc-blende
structure, rare-earth oxides, chelates,
and organic phosphors.
The list of his awards and honors is
too long to relate in full, and reflects not
only universal respect and admiration
2003 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
1433-7851/03/4208-0850 $ 20.00+.50/0
for his scientific research, but also the
remarkable breadth of his activities. The
27 awards he received were for both
research and teaching, and were from
organizations in physics, chemistry, and
chemical engineering. Among them
were the Oliver E. Buckley Prize in
Condensed Matter Physics from the
American Physical Society (1967), the
Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical
Physics (1974), the Peter Debeye Award
of the American Chemical Society
(1987), the first P. W. Bridgman Award
of the International Association for the
Advancement of High-Pressure Science
and Technology (1977), and a Research
Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany (1986). In 1989, President George H. W. Bush awarded him
the National Medal of Science.
Drickamer2s laboratory in Urbana
attracted scientists and students from
many places around the world. His
passionate interest in high-pressure research continued after his retirement in
1989. Even then, he did not change his
research schedule, but continued to
maintain an active and successful research group and was in the laboratory
six days a week. The results of 56 years
of high-pressure research were published in more than 450 original contributions to the scientific literature. A summary, in Drickamer2s own words, of the
impact of “Pressure Tuning Spectroscopy”, can be found in Annual Reviews
Materials Science 1990, 1 – 17. Insight
into his research can be found in his
review on “Electronic Transitions in
Transition Metal Compounds at High
Pressure” (Angew. Chem. 1974, 86, 61 –
79; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1974,
13, 39 – 47).
Dickamer2s scientific work has affected high-pressure research in an important way and will continue to do so in
the future. Those who have been fortunate and privileged enough to work
with him as students, colleagues, or
friends owe him a great debt of gratitude. We will miss him.
Friedrich Hensel (Marburg)
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2003, 42, No. 8
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