Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1985
Born: 18 June 1918, New York, NY, USA
Died: 6 June 2013
Affiliation at the time of the award: US Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, 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, Jerome Karle and Herbert Hauptman developed a system of equations that used measurements of the rays' intensity to determine their phases. This made direct determination of molecular structures possible.
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.