British chemist, joint recipient with Ernst Fischer of the Nobel Prize
for Chemistry in 1973 for their independent work in organometallic chemistry.
Wilkinson discovered many new isotopes as a result of his research
into the products of atomic fission reactions during the 1940s. In 1951
he read about a puzzling, newly synthesized compound called dicyclopentadienyl-iron
(now called ferrocene). He correctly deduced that this compound's structure
consists of a single iron atom sandwiched between two five-sided carbon
rings to form an organometallic molecule. Wilkinson went on to synthesize
a number of other "sandwich" compounds, or metallocenes, and
his researches into this previously unknown type of chemical structure
earned him the Nobel Prize. His research on metal-to-hydrogen bonding,
particularly his discovery of Wilkinson's catalyst, a homogeneous hydrogenation
catalyst for alkenes, had widespread significance for organic and inorganic
chemistry and proved to have important industrial applications.
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