Geoffrey Wilkinson

Picture of Geoffrey Wilkinson

Date of Birth: 07/14/1921

Age: 75

Place of birth: Todmorden

Citizenship: United Kingdom


In 1939 he graduated from high school and received a scholarship to the Royal Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London.

At the end of Imperial College Wilkinson stayed there to do research on military orders, then he went to Canada, where he enrolled in the National Research Council of Canada Research Fellow of the Canadian Branch of the project to build the atomic bomb.

Here he remained until 1946, when, having received from the Imperial College of Science and Technology doctoral scholarship, became a nuclear chemist at the Radiation Laboratory E.O.Lourensa (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1939) at the University of California at Berkeley, which at that time was headed by Mr. .Siborg (Nobel Prize in chemistry, 1951): Wilkinson learned to work with the cyclotron, constructed during the war.

He worked at Berkeley until 1950. During this time, his interests shifted to inorganic chemistry, and he moved to a teacher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, where he began studying the compound of the transition metal series.

Becoming the next year as an assistant professor at Harvard University, he continued these studies in the next five years, including during the internship in the laboratory of J. Bjerrum in Copenhagen. The opportunity presented to him thanks to the Guggenheim scholarship.

In 1951, chemists TJ Keely and P.L.Poson, and a little later with the staff got S.Miller substance R.B.Vudvordom Nobel laureate and his staff called ferrocene. This unusual organometallic compounds, which is the structure of the two five-membered cyclopentadienyl rings connected with one iron atom.

In an effort to explain the features of ferrocene and rasshiritznaniya about the structure of the compounds of the transition metals with organic molecules, Wilkinson, who was then working at Harvard, and independently by German researcher E.O.Fisher undertook a study of its structure.

In 1952, in collaboration with Wilkinson R.B.Vudvordom applied shortly before this developed method of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Give a word Wilkinson. "Around 4 pm on Friday at the end of January (1952) I came to Harvard University chemistry faculty library and took recently received the magazine" Nature ". As soon as I saw a note Keely and Pawson, I already knew what the answer was, because in some way I was ready for it ... the same evening on Friday R.B.Vudvord also saw an article Keely and Pawson and came to the same conclusion, but in a different way. He, too, was to some degree prepared for the fact that he worked in the field of cyclopentadiene ... Monday ... we agreed to "attack" the problem combined efforts - he "organic side", and I - with "metal", " .

If Keely and Pawson thought that five-membered rings of ferrocene are adjacent and connected by a single, relatively weak bond with an atom of iron, the Wilkinson and Woodward believed that the two rings lying one above the other in parallel planes and form a layered, similar to the sandwich structure of the atom iron therebetween. Therefore, according to their model, the central metal atom is bonded to each of the five carbon atoms in upper and lower rings. So unusual arrangement explains the remarkable stability of the molecule.

Wilkinson and his students at Harvard University received the "sandwich" compounds with CO or NO groups instead of one of the cyclopentadienyl rings. They were synthesized "Sandwich" derivatives with chromium, vanadium, molybdenum, tungsten and others. Eventually analogous derivatives were prepared with uranium, plutonium and further, americium, californium. Organic chemistry merged with nuclear.

In December 1955 Wilkinson returned to London and became a professor of inorganic chemistry at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London. At the time, this was the only Department of Inorganic Chemistry in England. Here Wilkinson continued his study of the transition metals, focusing on the metals ruthenium, rhodium and rhenium. In 1958, Wilkinson included in the "sandwich" molecules of different size rings, namely the seven-membered.

In 1973, together with E.O.Fisherom Wilkinson was awarded the Nobel Prize `for the innovative work carried out independently of each other, on organometallic chemistry, the so-called sandwich, connections. " In his opening speech on behalf of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences I.Lindkvist he said: "The phenomena to which Wilkinson and Fischer noticed could see all the chemists in the world. However, their adequate interpretation did not appear as long as these two scientists did not come to the conclusion that certain compounds can not be understood without the nomination of a new concept. It was called the concept of "sandwich" compounds. "

The work for which Wilkinson and Fischer won the Nobel Prize, has stimulated research in various areas of inorganic, organic and theoretical chemistry, and their research laid the foundation for the development of catalysts used in the production of new, high-strength plastics, drugs (eg, for the treatment of Parkinson`s disease) imotornogo fuel that does not contain lead, resulting in a more effective, than tetraethyl lead, anti-knock.

This trend has given rise to chemistry quickly growing interest in organometallic compounds, especially those where there is a carbon bond - metal. Of particular interest is the relationship "sandwich" compounds essential for the practice of the class of substances - metal carbonyls in connection with the possibility of interchanging the cyclopentadienyl radical molecule of CO and vice versa, which proved useful for synthetic purposes.

Steel is widely conducted research and alkene alkyne complexes of transition metals, this has led to the emergence of new classes of organometallic compounds. Now this area is experiencing rapid progress of chemistry, and the use of organometallic compounds as catalysts has become possible to carry out such reactions, the assumption of the fundamental realization that previously would have raised eyebrows. Moreover, such processes are already in commercial use.

The results obtained by Wilkinson and Fisher served as the impetus for the creation of modern organometallic chemistry of transition elements, in that they have made a significant contribution to their subsequent studies.

In 1977, Wilkinson - lecturer at the University of New South Wales (Australia), and in 1983 - a lecturer of the Italian and the Royal Society of Chemistry in London. Author of over 400 scientific articles.

Works: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry. Ch 1, 2 / ed. from English. Ed. V.O.Shpikitera. M., 1968; Fundamentals of inorganic chemistry / ed. from English. Moscow, 1979 (with F.A.Kottonom); The structure of iron biscyclopentadienyl // J.Am. Chem. Soc. 1952. V. 74. (with M.Rosenblum, MCWhiting, RBWoodward).