Brown, Herbert C.

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BROWN, HERBERT C. (1912–2004), U.S. chemist and Nobel laureate. Brown was born in London to parents who had emigrated from the Ukraine. The family moved to Chicago in 1914. He received his B.Sc. (1936) and Ph.D. (1938) from the University of Chicago. Following a year as a postdoctorate fellow, he was appointed to the staff at the university with the rank of instructor. In 1943 he went to Wayne University and in 1947 transferred to Purdue University. He was made distinguished professor in inorganic chemistry in 1954, research professor in 1960, and emeritus professor in 1978. Subsequently, he became R.B. Wetherill Research Professor Emeritus.

In 1979 Brown was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his studies on the application of borohydrides and diborane to organic synthesis, which has had a revolutionary impact on synthetic organic chemistry. He discovered that the simplest compound of boron and hydrogen, diborane, may be added with remarkable ease to unsaturated organic molecules to give organoboranes. In addition, his studies of molecular addition compounds contributed to the reacceptance of steric effects as a major factor in chemical behavior.

Brown was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1957 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1966. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Chemical Society's Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Organic Chemistry for 1960, the Elliott Cresson Medal for 1978, the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences for 1987, the acs Herbert C. Brown Medal and Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods for 1998, and selection by the acs publication, Chemical Engineering News, as one of the Top 75 Chemists Contributing to the High Status of Current Chemistry (1998).


Les Prix Nobel 1979.

[Ruth Rossing (2nd ed.)]

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Brown, Herbert C.

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