Herbert Charles Brown


Herbert Charles Brown
(1912)

American chemist whose pioneering work with inorganic and organic boron compounds won him (along with Georg Wittig) the 1979 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Brought to the United States in 1914 by his Ukrainian-born parents, Brown grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1936. He received his doctorate in 1938 and remained at Chicago as an instructor until 1943. He taught at Wayne State University in Detroit from 1943 to 1947 and at Purdue University from 1947, becoming Wetherill distinguished professor there in 1959 and emeritus in 1978.

Brown's work with borohydrides led to the development of an important new class of inorganic reagents. His discovery of the organoboranes revealed an array of powerful and versatile reagents for organic synthesis. He was also known for studies of reactions involving so-called carbonium ions or carbo-cations.

Brown was the author of Hydroboration (1962) and Organic Syntheses via Boranes (1975).


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