Saturday, 22 June 2013

Jerome Karle, father of crystallography has died

Chemist Jerome Karle, who shared the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemsitry for his help in developing the now-ubiquitous imaging technique of X-ray crystallography has died aged 94.

X-ray crystallography is a method used for determining the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal, in which the crystalline atoms cause a beam of X-rays to diffract into many specific directions. By measuring the angles and intensities of these diffracted beams, a crystallographer can produce a three-dimensional picture of the density of electrons within the crystal.

X-ray crystallography has revealed the structure and function of many biological molecules, including vitamins, drugs, proteins and nucleic acids such as DNA. X-ray crystallography is still the chief method for characterizing the atomic structure of new materials and in discerning materials that appear similar by other experiments
Karle developed the technique with colleague Herbert Hauptman, with whom he had attended City College in New York in the 1930s. Following World War II, the duo took a mathematical approach to problem of imaging individual molecules, publishing their initial X-ray crystallography result, based on the pattern of light reflected when X-ray beams are shined on a crystalized molecule, in the 1950s. But their work was not immediately accepted. In time, though, the work became recognized and accepted and has led to many important applications and discoveries.

To read more about Jerome Karel's work, see the New York Times obituary.
Posted by Tim Sandle