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Henry Selig

by Susan J. Ainsworth
March 9, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 10

Henry Selig, 87, professor emeritus of inorganic and analytical chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, died on Oct. 21, 2014.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, he and his family fled from Nazism to the U.S. in 1939. He earned a B.S. in mathematics at the University of Chicago in 1949 before earning a Ph.D. at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University).

Selig worked as an associate chemist at Argonne National Laboratory from 1953 until 1967. Along with his colleagues Howard Claassen and John Malm, he achieved the synthesis of xenon tetrafluoride, the first discovered binary compound of a noble gas.

In 1968, Selig moved to Israel, accepting a position as professor of chemistry at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served as head of the department of inorganic and analytical chemistry from 1973 until 1976 and from 1978 until 1981. He retired in 1996.

In his research, he investigated the impact of fluorine chemistry on graphite intercalation compounds and doped polyacetylenes. In addition, Selig studied the reactions and intercalation of fluor­ine compounds with graphite fibers and the fluorination of the then newly discovered buckminsterfullerene. During his career, he served as a visiting professor at numerous institutions around the world.

Selig received the ACS Award for Creative Work in Fluorine Chemistry in 2009. He was an affiliate of the ACS Fluorine Chemistry Division for 30 years.

Selig was preceded in death by his wife, Hassida. He is survived by his three daughters.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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