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Boron hydride problems: how to measure reactions?


Deciding to give up my work in Mössbauer spectroscopy
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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Now, one of the other groups – and we’ve talked about this to some extent in the Newcastle era – was the boron hydride work. That was growing apace and... it became obvious to me that with all my other commitments, both outside the university and within the university and the university administration and so forth, and with two active groups it was getting too difficult for me to be up-to-date with what was going on and planning things, and I didn’t want the machine to start running me. I wanted to have some input into it, and the problem was the that Mössbauer experiments were certainly solid state experiments, nuclear physics almost, and they had no connection whatsoever with the boron experiments which in fact was now bifurcating into two different regions. One was the metallo-boranes, which we’ve just alluded to in Newcastle, and the other was the reactivity of the boranes themselves.

So, to cut a long story short, I made a decision after about six or seven years at Leeds that it wasn’t sensible to try and keep on top of all this and I would stop doing Mössbauer work. I didn’t lose interest in it. I was very interested in what was going on there but it was more as a spectator and I was happy to put in odd ideas if they occurred to me, and no doubt the group tolerated the old boy if he said something, but I didn’t after about the end of the 1970s take an active part in that work any... but the work continued particularly under Terry Gibb, who was by now a Senior Lecturer and then a Reader, and he was the main continuing influence there.

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: Mössbauer spectroscopy, Newcastle University, Leeds University, 1970s, Terry Gibb

Duration: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011