Kenichi Fukui


Kenichi Fukui

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Kenichi Fukui
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1981

Born: 4 October 1918, Nara, Japan

Died: 9 January 1998, Kyoto, Japan

Affiliation at the time of the award: Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

Prize motivation: “for their theories, developed independently, concerning the course of chemical reactions”

Prize share: 1/2


In chemical reactions, molecules composed of atoms meet and form new compounds. Electrons orbiting around the atoms’ nuclei play an important role here. In 1952, Kenichi Fukui developed a theory that showed that the properties of the orbits of electrons that are most weakly bonded to the atom are critically important in understanding chemical reactions. In later, more developed theories, Fukui and Roald Hoffmann proved independently of one another how the symmetrical properties of electron orbitals explain the course of chemical reactions.

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