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Herzberg, Gerhard

molecules methods radicals structure

[herts berg] (1904–99) German–Canadian physical chemist: devised methods of analysing electronic spectra to detect new molecules and to find molecular dimensions.

Born and educated in Germany, Herzberg taught at Darmstadt from 1930 until 1935 when he emigrated to Canada. For 20 years until 1969 he was head of the physics division for the National Research Council in Ottawa, which he made into a centre of international renown in spectroscopy. He developed and used spectroscopic methods for a variety of purposes, including the measurement of energy levels in simple atoms and molecules for use in testing theories of their structure and for the detection of unusual molecules and radicals, some of which could be detected by flash photolysis in the laboratory and others by astrophysical methods (for example CH and CH + in interstellar space and the flexible C3 in comets). For his work on the electronic structure and geometry of molecules, particularly free radicals, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1971.

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