Hermann Staudinger was born in Worms on the 23rd of March 1881. His father was Dr. Franz Staudinger.
Staudinger was educated in Worms, matriculated in 1899, and continued his studies first at the University of Halle, later at Darmstadt and Munich. He graduated at Halle in 1903 and qualified for inauguration as academic lecturer under Professor Thiele at Strasbourg University in spring 1907. In November 1907 he was appointed Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Institute of Chemistry of the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe. For fourteen years, from 1912, he was lecturer at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich, and in 1926 followed the invitation of the University of Freiburg i. Br. to become Lecturer of Chemistry. ln this city, he remained all through his further career. From 1940 onwards he held an additional appointment as Principal of the Research Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry. Staudinger resigned from his post as Principal of the Chemical Laboratories of the University in April 1951, and accepted the honorary appointment as Head of the State Research Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry, which he held until April 1956.
Staudinger was a prolific writer and the following books by him have been published: Die Ketene (Ketenes), published by Enke, Stuttgart, 1912; Anleitung zur organischen qualitativen Analyse (Introduction to organic qualitative analysis), published by Springer, Berlin, 1st edition 1923, 5th edition 1948, 6th edition 1955; Tabellen zu den Vorlesungen über allgemeine und anorganische Chemie (Tables for the lectures on general and inorganic chemistry), published by Braun, Karlsruhe, 1st edition 1927, 5th edition 1947; Die hochmolekularen organischen Verbindungen, Kautschak und Cellulose (The high-molecular organic compounds, rubber and cellulose), published by Springer, Berlin, 1932; Organische Kolloidchemie (Organic colloid chemistry), published by Vieweg, Braunschweig, 1st edition 1940, 3rd edition 1950; Fortschritte der Chemie, Physik und Technik der makromolekularen Stoffe (Progress of the chemistry, physics and technique of the macromolecular substances), jointly with Professor Vieweg and Professor Röhrs, Volume 1, 1939, Volume II, 1942, publisher Lehmann, Munich; Makromolekulare Chemie und Biologie (Macromolecular chemistry and biology), publisher Wepf & Co., Basle, 1947; Vom Aufstand der technischen Sklaven (The uprising of the technical slave), published by Chamier, Essen-Freiburg, 1947.
Since September 1947 Staudinger has edited the periodical Die makromolekulare Chemie (Macromolecular chemistry), published by Dr. A. Hüthig, Heidelberg and Wepf & Co., Basle.
In 1961 his book Arbeitserinnerungen (Working memoirs) appeared, published by Dr. A. Hüthig, Heidelberg.
Besides the books, Staudinger published a great number of scientific papers. Among these were fifty on ketenes, also works on oxalyl chloride, autoxidation, aliphatic diazo-compounds, explosions, insecticides, synthetic pepper and coffee aroma. Since 1920 he has written approximately 500 papers on macromolecular compounds, about 120 of these on cellulose, about 50 on rubber and isoprene.
For his work Staudinger received many honours and awards; to mention but a few – he is Dr. Ing. h.c. of the Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe; Dr. rer. nat. h.c. of the University of Mainz; Dr. (C) h.c. of the University of Salamanca; Dr. chem. h.c. of the University of Torino; Dr. sc. techn. h.c. of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich; and Dr. h.c. of the University of Strasbourg. In 1953 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discoveries in the field of macromolecular chemistry. In 1933 he was honoured with the Cannizzarro Prize of the Reale Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Roma. He is member of the Institut de France, and member and honorary member of many Chemical Societies and the Society of Macromolecular Chemistry in Tokyo.
Hermann Staudinger is married to Magda Woit, who is for many years his co-worker and co-author of numerous publications.
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
Hermann Staudinger died on September 8, 1965.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.