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Sir Harold Walter Kroto. 7 October 1939 — 30 April 2016

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-442
JournalBiographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society
DatePublished - 1 Dec 2017


Harry Kroto received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 for his discovery of several new allotropes of carbon and in particular the now-famous C60, whose atoms are arranged in the spheroidal shape of the truncated icosahedron and which he named as buckminsterfullerene after the architect famous for his design of geodesic domes. Earlier in his career he made important discoveries concerned with the production of small, semi-stable molecules by pyrolysis methods and their characterization, mainly by means of microwave rotational spectroscopy. He was proud to have discovered by this means the compound CH2=PH because it contains the first known example of a carbon–phosphorus double bond. He later also made notable contributions to the field of materials chemistry, especially through his work on carbon nanotubes. Harry used his charismatic personality to very good effect in furthering the public understanding of science and was particularly good with children in this context. He also had strong views about science and religion which led him to become a campaigning atheist. He was a loyal and supportive friend and led a very happy family life with his wife Margaret and their two sons.

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