Herbert A. Hauptman
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1985
Born: 14 February 1917, New York, NY, USA
Died: 23 October 2011, Buffalo, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: The Medical Foundation of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA
Prize motivation: “for their outstanding achievements in the development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structures”
Prize share: 1/2
When mapping the molecular structure of molecules, it is important to study how X-rays, electromagnetic waves with a short wavelength, are bent by a crystal. What is important is the ray’s direction, intensity and phase—how the wave crests are displaced. During the first part of the 1950s, Herbert Hauptman and Jerome Karle developed a system of equations that used measurements of the rays’ intensity to determine their phases. This made direct determination of molecular structures possible.