Grubbs, Robert Howard

Grubbs, Robert Howard, 1942–2021, American chemist, b. near Possum Trot, Ky., Univ. of Florida (B.S., 1963; M.S., 1965), Columbia, Univ. (Ph.D, 1968). Grubbs was on the faculty at Michigan State Univ. from 1969-78 before becoming a professor at the California Institute of Technology, where he worked until his death. He won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Richard Schrock and Yves Chauvin for development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis; metathesis is used in the development of pharmaceuticals and advanced polymeric materials. In metathesis reactions, double bonds between carbon atoms in molecules of different compounds are broken, splitting the molecules into atom groups; molecules of new compounds are formed when each group from one molecule forms a double bond with one of the groups from a different molecule. Two years after Schrock produced (1990) an efficient metal-compound catalyst for metathesis, Grubbs developed an improved catalyst that was stable in air.

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