Barton, Derek H. R.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Barton, Derek H. R.

Derek H. R. Barton, 1918–98, British chemist, b. Gravesend, England, grad. Imperial College of Science and Technology (B.S. 1940, Ph.D. 1942, D.Sc. 1949). He was on the faculty of Imperial College (1945–50, 1957–78), Birkbeck College, London (1950–55), the Univ. of Glasgow (1955–57), and Texas A&M (1986–98) and was director (1978–86) of the Institute for the Chemistry of Natural Substances at Gif-sur-Yvette, France. Barton shared the 1969 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Norwegian chemist Odd Hassel for their separate contributions to the development of conformational analysis, which is the prediction of the chemical and physical properties of organic molecules based upon a preferred conformation of the atoms in the molecule. Barton and Hassel showed that the way organic compounds interact is linked to the way they assume certain geometric configurations. Thus, there exists a simple relationship between configuration and conformation, such that configurations can be predicted once the possible conformations for the products of a reaction are analyzed. Also among Barton's contributions is a process for synthesizing the important hormone aldosterone, which is used in the treatment of Addison's disease. He wrote Half a Century of Radical Chemistry (1993) and Reason and Imagination: Reflections on Research in Organic Chemistry (1996).

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