Herzberg's own research field was molecular SPECTROSCOPY, the analysis of the spectra of molecules in order to determine their structure. He specialized in free radicals, important intermediates of chemical reactions that have very short lifetimes (microseconds) under laboratory conditions. Free radicals are also found in interstellar space, where they can last for long periods, and their spectra can thus be recorded by special instruments. Herzberg and his associates developed new methods for their spectroscopic analysis.
His career included more than 200 scientific publications and he earned many honours, such as fellowship in the Royal Society of London (1951), appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada and to the Queen's Privy Council of Canada and the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1971. He was also a vigorous participant in the SCIENCE POLICY debate following the Lamontagne report of 1970. The NRC created its highest grade, Distinguished Research Officer, especially to allow Herzberg to continue personal research after he reached retirement age in 1969 (he continued to hold the post in 1987). In 1975 the NRC's astronomy and spectroscopy units were reorganized as the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, and in September 1987 Minor Planet No 3316, discovered February 1984, was named after him.
Author DONALD J.C. PHILLIPSON
Links to Other Sites
Gerhard Herzberg (Nobel Site)
A biography of Gerhard Herzberg, winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1971. From the official website of the Nobel Foundation.
A profile of Canadian nobel prize winning scientist Gerhard Herzberg. From the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame.
Search this NSERC site for a profile of acclaimed Canadian scientist Gerhard Herzberg.
Search the science.ca website for a profile of the nobel prize winning scientist Gerhard Herzberg. Includes an overview of his research.