Staudinger, Hermann

Staudinger, Hermann,

1881–1965, German chemist, Ph.D. Univ. of Halle, 1903. Staudinger held faculty positions at the Univ. of Strasbourg (1903–7), the Technical Univ. of Karlsruhe (1907–12), and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1912–26). He then joined the Albert Ludwig Univ. of Freiburg, where he was a lecturer from 1926 until he retired in 1951. Staudinger received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discoveries in the field of macromolecular chemistry. He demonstrated that 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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 could be very large, formed of as many as 100,000 atoms, a notion that ran counter to the thinking of his day but paved the way for the tremendous growth of the plasticsplastic,
any organic material with the ability to flow into a desired shape when heat and pressure are applied to it and to retain the shape when they are withdrawn. Composition and Types of Plastic
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 industry beginning in the mid-20th cent.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Staudinger, Hermann


Born Mar. 23, 1881, in Worms; died Sept. 8, 1965, in Freiburg. German chemist (Federal Republic of Germany).

Staudinger studied at the Technische Hochschule in Darmstadt and at the universities of Halle and Munich. He was a professor at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe from 1908 to 1912, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich from 1912 to 1926, and at the University of Freiburg from 1926 to 1951. From 1940 to 1956 he was the director of the State Institute for Macro-molecular Compounds.

Staudinger’s principal works deal with the chemistry of macro-molecular compounds. In 1905 he discovered ketenes, a class of organic compounds. In 1919 he proposed a method of substituting an imino group for the oxygen atom of a carbonyl group by using triphenylphosphine ¡mines; the process is known as the Staudinger reaction. In 1922 he proved that polymers are compounds consisting of large molecules, the atoms of which are joined by covalent bonds. To describe such molecules he introduced the concept of the macromolecule. Staudinger also advanced the theory of the chain structure of macromolecules, to which he subsequently added the concepts of the branched macromolecule and the three-dimensional polymer network. He demonstrated the relationship between the molecular weight of a polymer and the viscosity of its solutions, thus laying the foundations for the development of the viscometric method for determining molecular weight. He also proposed polymer-analogue transformation reactions. In 1947, Staudinger founded the journal Die makromolekulare Chemie.

Staudinger received a Nobel Prize in 1953.


Arbeitserinnerungen. Heidelberg, 1961.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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