Recipient of Nobel Award Formed Ideas at Harvard

Derek H. R. Barton, the English cowinner of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, developed many of his important concepts in 1950-51. when he was a visiting professor at Harvard.

Louis F. Fieser, Sheldon Emery Professor of Organic Chemistry, emeritus, said yesterday, "During his year here, Barton developed his initial concept of conformational analysis, for which he has received the Nobel Prize."

Elias J. Corey, current Sheldon Emery Professor, said that Barton formed his "key concepts" during his tenure at Harvard. Other members of the Chemistry department described Barton's Harvard research as "crucial" and "very important" to his theories on the structures of various organic molecules- the molecules of which all plants and animals are formed.

Ring Forms

While teaching a Harvard graduate course. Barton published two papers on the ring forms of various organic molecules. Chemists have since recognized Barton's theories as basic principles of stereochemistry- the three-dimensional arrangements of molecules.


Barton first expressed his ideas at a Harvard research seminar in 1950. During a speech, Feiser asked his audience when chemists would be able to explain certain features of organic molecules. "At theend of the talk," Feiser said yesterday, "Barton got up and explained them."

Barton's research involved the bonding of atoms in cyclohexane-molecules whose basis is a ring of six carbon atoms. Odd Hassel, the Norwegian chemist with whom Barton shares the Nobel Prize, discovered that the carbon rings formed two types of bonds. Barton explained the occurrence and behavior of both types.

Barton's theories have enabled chemists to determine the structure of many complicated organic molecules and to produce such molecules artificially. His early research paved the way for the synthesis of the medicine cortisone.

Currently a professor at the London Imperial Academy of Science and Technology. Barton often lectures at American universities. In 1952 after his year at Harvard, he moved to M.I.T. as Arthur D. Little Visiting Lecturer.

Harvard and M.I.T. chemistry professors yesterday expressed their approval of the Nobel Prize award. Paul D. Barllett, Erving Professor of Chemistry said, "I'm delighted to see it. It falls clearly in the class of giving the prize for a fundamental clarifying idea: this is very important for the development of chemistry."

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