Natta, Giulio

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Natta, Giulio,

1903–79, Italian chemist, Ph.D. the Polytechnic of Milan, 1924. Natta held brief appointments at several academic institutions, including the Univ. of Pavia (1933–35), the Univ. of Rome (1935–36), and the Polytechnic of Turin (1936–38), before becoming a professor at his alma mater in 1938. He and Karl ZieglerZiegler, Karl
, 1898–1973, German chemist. Educated at the Univ. of Marburg, he taught at Heidelberg and Halle and for a short period at the Univ. of Chicago. He became director of the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research at Mülheim an der Ruhr in 1944.
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 were jointly awarded the 1963 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discoveries concerning the chemistry and technology of high-molecular-weight polymerspolymer
, chemical compound with high molecular weight consisting of a number of structural units linked together by covalent bonds (see chemical bond). The simple molecules that may become structural units are themselves called monomers; two monomers combine to form a dimer,
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. They developed the Ziegler-Natta catalysts, which enabled the production of a variety of commercially important polymers, including polyethylenespolyethylene
, widely used plastic. It is a polymer of ethylene, CH2=CH2, having the formula (-CH2-CH2-)n, and is produced at high pressures and temperatures in the presence of any one of several catalysts, depending
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 and polypropylenespolypropylene
, plastic noted for its light weight, being less dense than water; it is a polymer of propylene. It resists moisture, oils, and solvents. Since its melting point is 121°C; (250°F;), it is used in the manufacture of objects that are sterilized in the course of
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Natta, Giulio


Born Feb. 26, 1903, in Imperia. Italian organic chemist.

Natta graduated from the Milan Polytechnical Institute in 1924. He was an instructor at the institute from 1925 and was appointed a professor of general chemistry in 1927. From 1933 to 1935 he served as director of the Institute of General Chemistry at the University of Pavia, and from 1935 to 1937 as dean of the physical chemistry department at the University of Rome. In 1938 he became director of the department of industrial chemistry at the Milan Polytechnical Institute.

Natta’s first scientific works investigated the structure-of solid bodies, including catalysts and certain organic polymers. In 1938 he began to research the production of synthetic rubber and was the first to separate butadiene from 1-butene. In 1954 he discovered stereospecific polymerization. His research resulted in the successful preparation of isotactic polypropylene at an industrial plant in 1957. Other studies carried out by Natta led to the creation of new types of elastomers. Natta’s chief contribution to polymer chemistry is the discovery of stereoregular polymers, a new class of macromolecule with an ordered structure.

Natta shared a Nobel Prize in 1963 with the German chemist K. Ziegler. A foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR since 1966, Natta was awarded the M. V. Lomonosov Gold Medal in 1970.

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