Induction: May, 2008 Industry Areas:
Prof. Dr. Hermann Staudinger (1881 ‚Äď 1965) was a world renowned German chemist who won the 1953 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for demonstrating that polymers are long-chain molecules.
His work laid the foundation for the great expansion of the global plastics industry in the 20th century and beyond. Staudinger studied chemistry at the universities of Darmstadt and Munich, and he received a Ph.D. from the University of Halle in 1903.
He held academic posts at the universities of Strasbourg and Karlsruhe before joining the faculty at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Z√ľrich in 1912.
He left the Institute in 1926 to become the professor of organic chemistry and director of the chemistry laboratory at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, where in 1940 an Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry was established under his directorship. He retired in 1951.
Staudinger's first discovery was that of the highly reactive organic compounds known as ketenes. His work on polymers began with research he conducted for the German chemical giant BASF on the synthesis of isoprene (1910), the monomer of which natural rubber is composed. The prevalent belief at the time was that rubber and other polymers are composed of small molecules that are held together by ‚Äúsecondary‚ÄĚ valences or other forces. In 1922 Staudinger proposed that polymers are actually giant molecules (macromolecules) that are held together by normal covalent bonds, a concept that met with resistance from many authorities. Throughout the 1920s, the research of Staudinger and others showed that small molecules form long, chainlike structures (polymers) by chemical interaction and not simply by physical aggregation. Staudinger showed that such linear molecules could be synthesized by a variety of processes and that they could maintain their identity even when subject to chemical modification.
Staudinger always maintained a close relationship with industry. His research was published in more than 800 publications amounting to more than 10,000 printed pages.
Dr. Hermann Staudinger, the "Father of Modern Polymer Chemistry," set the standard for plastics innovation over his entire career. In that sense all polymer chemists and plastics engineers are his ‚Äútechnological heirs.‚ÄĚ