F. Albert Cotton
Wolf Prize Laureate in Chemistry 2000
The Prize Committee for Chemistry has unanimously decided that the Prize for 2000 be awarded to:
Professor F. Albert Cotton
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas, USA
“for opening up an entirely new phase of transition metal chemistry based on pairs and clusters of metal atoms directly linked by single or multiple bonds.”
Professor F. Albert Cotton has been investigating transition metal compounds with metal-metal bonds from the mid-1960’s. The importance of bonding interactions in chemistry is paramount. Through elegant and novel synthesis, detailed characterization via X-ray diffraction and other spectroscopic techniques coupled with theoretical calculation and insights for over 30 years, he has elucidated the exact nature of metal-metal bonds, with special emphasis on metal-metal multiple bonds, including unique quadruple bonds. Cotton’s model for metal-metal bonding serves to describe the chemistry of dinuclear complexes throughout the periodic table and offers a unified, rational understanding of binuclear and multinuclear metal complexes. The implications and impact of this extensive body of results in biochemistry, catalysis and material science, go beyond the inherent importance and novelty of metal-metal bonding itself. Cotton’s accomplishments contribute to the understanding of metal functions in biological systems, particularly enzymes essential for all living organisms. They provide an insight to catalytic systems of great industrial importance.
Cotton has also played a key role in establishing the fluxional nature of many organometallic complexes now taken for granted. He has also set the stage for modern metal cluster chemistry. His work is cited in all text books and monographs in inorganic chemistry. Moreover, Cotton has authored, or co-authored, the most influential and widely used text books in inorganic chemistry. He is the preeminent inorganic chemist in the world. Through his research and text books he has changed the practice of inorganic chemistry and left an indelible mark on chemistry as a whole.