(1903 - 1979)
Italian chemist who contributed to the development of high polymers
useful in the manufacture of films, plastics, fibres, and synthetic
Giulio Natta was born in February 1903 in Imperia, near Genoa,
Italy, and died in Bergamo in May 1979. Together with Karl Ziegler of
Germany he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1963 for the
development of Ziegler-Natta catalysts. His work led to the introduction
of polypropylene resins through the polymerisation of propylene to produce
stereoregular polymers (isotactic).
Natta had an illustrious career after obtaining a doctorate in chemical
engineering at Milan Polytechnic in 1924. Chairs in chemistry were held
at Pavia, Rome and Turin universities, after which he returned to Milan
Polytechnic in 1938. In his role as Director of Industrial Chemistry
he developed new uses for the commercial synthesis of methanol, formaldehyde,
succinic acid and butyraldehyde. His intensive interest in and studies
of polymers in conjunction with the Italian firm Montecatini led in
1953 to his use of Ziegler catalysts for the polymerisation of propylene.
He also developed catalyst systems for producing syndiotactic polypropylene.
The contribution of Natta to the development of high polymers of profound
use in the manufacture of films, fibres, synthetic rubber, etc., has
provided a major building block towards our current domestic and commercial