Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Ronald George Wreyford Norrish
Born: 9 November 1897, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Died: 7 June 1978, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: Institute of Physical Chemistry, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions, effected by disturbing the equilibrium by means of very short pulses of energy."
Prize share: 1/4
During chemical reactions, atoms and molecules regroup and form new constellations. Chemical reactions are affected by heat and light, among other things. The sequence of events can proceed very quickly. At the end of the 1940s, Ronald Norrish and George Porter built an extremely powerful lamp that emitted very short bursts of light. The light's energy triggered reactions among the molecules or split them into parts that were inclined to react. By registering the light spectrums that are characteristic for different substances, the progress of the reaction could be monitored.