Henry Taube

Henry Taube, Ph.D , M.Sc , B.Sc , FRSC (November 30, 1915November 16, 2005) was a Canadian-born American chemist noted for having been awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "his work in the mechanisms of electron-transfer reactions, especially in metal complexes," otherwise referred to as inner-sphere electron transfer.

Taube was born in Neudorf, Saskatchewan and attended high school at Luther College in Regina. He received his B.Sc and M.Sc from the University of Saskatchewan in 1935 and 1937 respectively. He went on to get his Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley in 1940. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1942. He was a Professor of Chemistry at Cornell University, the University of Chicago and at Stanford University (1961–1986).

His Nobel-winning studies concerned the reactions in which some molecules grab electrons from other molecules, known as redox, a portmanteau word combining "reduction" and "oxidation." Redox reactions occur widely in plant photosynthesis and animal respiration, and in industrial processes such as combustion. His work specifically concerned coordination compounds, where one metal atom is surrounded by a number of other atoms or molecules known as ligands. He was among the earliest chemists to use isotopes to determine reaction mechanisms, and among the first to probe mechanisms of inorganic chemistry. He greatly expanded the known chemistry of ruthenium and osmium, metals in which backbonding is important to their reactivity.

He died in his home in Palo Alto, California on November 16, 2005, at the age of 89.

One of his sons, Karl Taube, is a noted Mayanist researcher and Professor of Anthropology at University of California, Riverside, known for his work on the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica.


* New York Times obituary

* P. C. Ford, E. I. Solomon, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2006, 45, 692–693. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200504564

* C. Creutz, P. C. Ford, T. J. Meyer "Henry Taube: Inorganic Chemist Extraordinaire" Inorganic Chemistry, 2006, volume 45, pp 7059 - 7068. DOI: 10.1021/ic060669s

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