Odd Hassel: Mapping Molecular Shapes and Winning the Nobel Prize

OV Digital Desk

Odd Hassel (17 May 1897 – 11 May 1981) was a Norwegian chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1969 for his ground-breaking research on the structure of molecules.

Life and Career

He was born on 17 May 1897, in Kristiania, Norway. From a young age, he showed a keen interest in science and mathematics. He attended the University of Oslo, where he studied chemistry and graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 1920.

After completing his education, he worked as a research assistant at the University of Oslo. He later became an associate professor of physical chemistry at the same institution in 1925. In the 1930s, he began his ground-breaking research on the three-dimensional structure of molecules, which would later earn him the Nobel Prize.

His research involved the use of X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of organic molecules. He discovered that molecules with non-planar structures are more stable than those with planar structures. This discovery became known as the “Hassel Effect” and was a major breakthrough in the field of chemistry.

Hassel also made significant contributions to the study of dipole moments in molecules. His work led to the development of the Hassel-Bjerrum theory, which explains the relationship between the dipole moment of a molecule and its chemical structure.

He continued to work as a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Oslo until his retirement in 1964. He remained active in the scientific community, however, and continued to publish research papers throughout his lifetime.

He died on 11 May 1981, in Oslo, Norway.

Award and Legacy

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1969 for his ground-breaking research on the structure of molecules. In addition to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he was also awarded the Gunnerus Medal, the Davy Medal, and the Order of St. Olav.

Hassel was also a member of numerous scientific organizations, including the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Royal Society of London, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His contributions to the field of chemistry have had a lasting impact on our understanding of the natural world. His ground-breaking research on the structure of molecules has paved the way for new discoveries and innovations in the field of chemistry. His legacy continues to inspire scientists and researchers around the world to this day.

Today, Hassel is remembered as one of the most influential chemists of the 20th century. His research on the structure of molecules has had a profound impact on the field of chemistry and has helped to shape our understanding of the natural world.