Rudolph A. Marcus
Wolf Prize Laureate in Chemistry 1985
Rudolph A. Marcus
Affiliation at the time of the award:
Noyes Laboratory of Chemical Physics, California Institute of Technology, USA
“for his contribution to chemical kinetics, especially the theories of unimolecular reactions and electron transfer reactions”.
Professor Rudolph A. Marcus has made many important contributions to a wide range of fields in theoretical chemical kinetics. His work has been fundamental and stimulating and has set the tone for all of the modern work in this field, starting with his initial work on RRKM theory in 1951 and continuing through his present work on semi-classical dynamics and chaos. Some of these theories are currently referred to as the Marcus theory. Many fields of chemistry have been greatly influenced by his work.
His theory of unimolecular reactions unified earlier ideas on the reactions of vibrationally excited molecules, based them on statistical notions, and related them to molecular properties. The so-called RRKM theory has become a standard textbook theory, and enjoyed many recent applications.
Marcus theory of electron-transfer reactions in solution has also become a standard theory. It is based on the recognition of the changes undergone by reactant and solvent molecules during the transfer of electrons. Quantitative relations derived by Marcus have been widely tested and are widely used by chemists. He has also extended his theory to electron transfer on electrodes, and to proton transfer in solution.
Other important contributions to theoretical chemistry include the semi classical theory of molecular collisions (in parallel with Professor W. H. Miller), the introduction of the concept of collision coordinates, and the semi-classical theory of quantization of bound states.