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Explaining Mössbauer spectroscopy


First finding out about Mössbauer spectroscopy
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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And over the course of the years I went to many Gordon Research Conferences, but this one in particular I want to talk about.

I’d given my lecture, and another man called Rolfe Herber, who was at Rutgers University, gave a lecture and this was then followed by someone and I just forget who it was, but he was talking about a new iron complex, and Rolfe Herber got up and said, ‘Well, Mössbauer spectroscopy would solve that problem’. There, I have to diverge, because I’ve got one version of this story, and Rolfe Herber’s got the other. Rolfe Herber says at that point, when he said Mössbauer spectroscopy will solve this, I said, ‘What on earth is Mössbauer spectroscopy?’ And he interrupted his lecture and gave a short talk about it. Actually, I got a clap when I mentioned it, if I did. Because no one else had heard of it either.

My version of the story is that Herber said Mössbauer spectroscopy would solve this problem, and Hans Jonassen, who was sitting at the back, said, ‘What is this Mössbauer spectroscopy?’ And got the answer. Whatever, that was the first mention of the word, as far as I was concerned, and I was intrigued by what Rolfe had said, so instead of going on a yacht on the lake that afternoon, I said to Rolfe, ‘Can you give me a tutorial on this? What on earth really is it?’ Pencil and paper came out, and we talked for three hours.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: Gordon Research Conferences, Rutgers University, Mössbauer spectroscopy, Rolfe Herber, Hans Jonassen

Duration: 1 minute, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011