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Alan G. MacDiarmid

Alan G. MacDiarmidAKA Alan Graham MacDiarmid

Born: 14-Apr-1927
Birthplace: Masterton, New Zealand
Died: 7-Feb-2007
Location of death: Philadelphia, PA
Cause of death: Accident - Fall
Remains: Buried, Arlington Cemetery, Drexel Hill, PA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Metallic polymers

Military service: New Zealand Air Training Corps (1941-43)

New Zealand-born American physicist Alan G. MacDiarmid had a sickly childhood, and taught himself chemistry through library books and his own often ill-advised experiments, which sometimes involved homemade fireworks. As a teenager, his first job was in a chemistry lab at Victoria University of Wellington, sweeping up, running errands, and washing beakers. He eventually attended the same school as a student, and earned degrees at Wisconsin and Cambridge, before becoming the co-discoverer, with Alan J. Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa in 1977, of a means to make certain plastics capable of conducting electricity.

The "eureka" moment of this discovery was actually MacDiarmid's idea, as he added bromide to a precursor of polysulfurnitride, because in previous experiments bromide had increased conductivity of other materials by tenfold. To the astonishment of all three scientists, however, adding bromide increased the conductivity of their latest mixture not by tenfold but by many millions of times. MacDiarmid, Heeger, and Shirakawa were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000. MacDiarmid's father was a friend of another Nobel laureate, Ernest Rutherford.

Father: Archibald MacDiarmid (marine engineer)
Mother: Ruby MacDiarmid
Sister: Alice MacDiarmid Palmer
Brother: Colin MacDiarmid
Brother: Roderick MacDiarmid
Wife: Marian Mathieu (m. 1954, d. 1990, three daughters, one son)
Daughter: Heather MacDiarmid McConnell
Daughter: Dawn MacDiarmid Hazelett
Son: Duncan MacDiarmid
Daughter: Gail MacDiarmid Williams
Wife: Gayl Gentile (together since 1991, m. 2005, until his death)

    High School: Hutt Valley High School, Lower Hutt, New Zealand (1943)
    University: BS Chemistry, Victoria University of Wellington (1947)
    University: MS Chemistry, Victoria University of Wellington (1951)
    University: PhD Inorganic Chemistry, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1953)
    University: PhD Chemistry, Cambridge University (1955)
    Lecturer: Queens College, University of St. Andrews
    Teacher: Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania (1955-64)
    Professor: Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania (1964-88)
    Professor: Blanchard Professor of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania (1988-2007)
    Professor: Science and Technology, University of Texas at Dallas (2002-07)

    Fulbright 1950
    Frederic Stanley Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry 1971
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2000 (with Alan J. Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa)
    RSNZ Rutherford Medal 2000
    Order of New Zealand 2001
    Alpha Chi Sigma Chemistry Fraternity
    New Zealand Ancestry
    Naturalized US Citizen

Author of books:
The Bond to Carbon (1968)
Organometallic Compounds of the Group IV Elements (1968, two volumes)
The Bond to Halogens and Halogenoids (1972)


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