Theorists Win Welch Award | May 28, 2007 Issue - Vol. 85 Issue 22 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 22 | p. 7 | News of The Week
Issue Date: May 28, 2007

Theorists Win Welch Award

Two chemists are honored for achievements in electron transfer, reaction dynamics
Department: ACS News
Credit: Courtesy of U of Sydney
Credit: Courtesy of U of Sydney
Credit: Courtesy of UC Berkeley
Credit: Courtesy of UC Berkeley

CHEMISTRY PROFESSORS Noel S. Hush of the University of Sydney, in Australia, and William H. Miller of the University of California, Berkeley, have won the 2007 Welch Award in Chemistry for their work in chemical theory. The Welch Foundation, based in Houston, grants the $300,000 award to honor achievements in basic chemical research.

Hush is most known for his work on electron transfer. In particular, he provided a description of electron donation by a complex, taking into account both solvent reorganization and the inner structure of the complex. Hush also investigated electron transfer between species covalently linked by a bridging molecule. He now focuses on the theoretical foundation of electrode-molecule-electrode conduction in nanoscale electronics.

"It's a wonderful thing to see Hush get this recognition," says Henry F. Schaefer, director of the Center for Computational Chemistry at the University of Georgia. "Hush and Rudolph Marcus looked at the problem of electron transfer in rather different ways, and the work of each of them, being utterly independent and motivated in different ways, has added greatly to the richness of our understanding of electron-transfer processes." Marcus, professor of chemistry at California Institute of Technology, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1992.

Miller's research focuses on chemical reaction dynamics. His achievements include developing a semiclassical scattering theory (the classical S-matrix theory) for chemical reactions, as well as a rigorous quantum theory of reaction rates. He is currently investigating a method for adding quantum effects to classical molecular dynamics simulations of complex chemical processes. Miller, an ACS member, directs the Kenneth S. Pitzer Center for Theoretical Chemistry at UC Berkeley.

"Miller showed first that it was possible to solve dynamical problems in terms of semiclassical mechanics, and I don't think that was obvious before," Schaefer says. "Miller's work stood between the quantum real world and the classical world that is easy to simulate and really was the Rosetta stone that unleashed the power of classical dynamics and made it believable for chemical systems."

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