Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Nikolay Nikolaevich Semenov
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1956
Born: 3 April 1896, Saratov, Russia
Died: 25 September 1986, Moscow, USSR
Affiliation at the time of the award: Institute for Chemical Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow, USSR
Prize motivation: "for their researches into the mechanism of chemical reactions."
Prize share: 1/2
During chemical reactions, atoms and molecules regroup and form new constellations. When molecules formed during a reaction readily react with molecules present from the beginning, a chain reaction can occur. Explosions and fire are examples of chain reactions. During the 1930s Nikolay Semenov analyzed conditions and sequences of events involved in chain reactions from a theoretical and mathematical standpoint. Among other things, he found that the theoretical results corresponded with observations of the reactions between phosporus and oxygen and between hydrogen and oxygen.