Charles John Pedersen

Charles John Pedersen
(1904 - 1989)

American chemist who, along with Jean-Marie Lehn and Donald J. Cram, was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity.

Charles J. Pedersen was born in Pusan, Korea, on October 3, 1904. His father Brede Pedersen, was a Norwegian marine engineer who left home as a young man and shipped out as ann engineer on a steam freighter to the Far East. His mother, Takino Yasui , was born in 1874 in Japan. He had a sister, Astrid, five years his senior, and an elder brother who died in childhood prior to his birth.
After taking a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at the University of Dayton, he went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he obtained a master's degree in organic chemistry.

As a new scientist he was initially set to work on a series of typical problems, which he solved successfully. After a while, he began to search for oil-solvable precipitants for copper, and he found the first good metal deactivator for petroleum products. As a result of his work, he developed a great interest in the effects of various ligands on the catalytic properties of copper and the transition elements generally and worked in the field for several years.
He next expanded his interests in the oxidative degradation of the substrates he was working on, namely petroleum products and rubber. During the late '40s and '50s his scientific interests became more varied. He became interested in the photochemistry of some new phthalocyanine adducts and of quinoneimine dioxides. He developed polymerization initiators and even made some novel polymers. In 1960 he returned to investigations in coordination chemistry, and decided to study the effects of bi- and multidentate phenolic ligands on the catalytic properties of the vanadyl group, VO.


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