Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1934
Harold C. Urey

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Harold C. Urey - Facts

Harold Clayton Urey

Harold Clayton Urey

Born: 29 April 1893, Walkerton, IN, USA

Died: 5 January 1981, La Jolla, CA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

Prize motivation: "for his discovery of heavy hydrogen"

Field: nuclear chemistry, physical chemistry

Prize share: 1/1


Elements occur as various isotopes, variations of elements with different atomic weights. Harold Urey wondered if the smallest atom, hydrogen, had different isotopes, and he calculated how they ought to be constituted if that were the case. By distilling liquid hydrogen, a hydrogen isotope was extracted in 1932 that was twice as heavy as regular hydrogen. It was called deuterium. Water that contains deuterium, so-called heavy water, proved to have other chemical properties that differed from regular water, and in various ways deuterium became significant in nuclear technology.

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