Dudley Herschbach:
Chemical Reactions and Molecular Beams

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Dudley Herschbach
Courtesy of
Texas A&M University

As a co-recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 'Dudley Herschbach was cited for "providing a much more detailed understanding of how chemical reactions take place". Using molecular beams, he studied elementary reactions such as K + CH3I and K + Br2, where it became possible to correlate reaction dynamics with the electronic structures of reactants and products. Exchanges proceeded through a persistent complex that lasted for many rotational periods, with product angular distributions reflecting the degree of reagent entanglement. Later this work was extended to H + Cl2, Cl + HI, halogen substitution reactions with vinyl and allyl halides, as well as such systems as Xe + Ar2 → XeAr + Ar. Herschbach has been a pioneer in the measurement and theoretical interpretation of vector properties of reaction dynamics, a field known as "molecular stereodynamics".

Herschbach was born in San Jose, California and studied at Stanford and Harvard. After a period on the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley (1959-1963) he returned to Harvard'1 where he was the Baird Professor of Science (1976-2003) and is now a Research Professor (Emeritus). He became a professor of physics at Texas A&M University in September 1, 2005.

1 Edited excerpt from Dudley Robert Herschbach

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