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Norrish, Ronald G W

war reactions served flash

(1897–1978) British physical chemist: a founder of modern photochemistry.

Born and educated in Cambridge, Norrish served in the artillery in the First World War and became a prisoner of war, taking up his science course in Cambridge in 1919. He spent his whole career there. His best-known work was done from 1945 onwards, in collaboration with George . The latter had served as a naval radar officer in the Second World War, and, initially guided by Norrish, they devised methods for studying very fast photo-chemical reactions. Their method (flash photolysis) used a brief (microseconds) intense light flash, followed by photography of the absorption spectrum to record and identify the short-lived chemical species produced by the light. (Later, Porter used lasers to study processes lasting only 10 –12 s.) Norrish and Porter shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1967 with Manfred Eigen (1927– ) who had studied fast reactions in solution: Norrish’s work was mainly on gas reactions.

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