|Name:||Herbert C. Brown|
|Birth Day:||May 22, 1912|
|Death Date:||Dec 19, 2004 (age 92)|
As per our current Database, Herbert C. Brown died on Dec 19, 2004 (age 92).
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He earned a B.S. from the University of Chicago in 1936.
Brown was born Herbert Brovarnik in London, to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants from Zhitomir, Pearl (née Gorinstein) and Charles Brovarnik, a hardware store manager and carpenter. His family moved to Chicago in June 1914, when he was two years old. Brown attended Crane Junior College in Chicago, where he met Sarah Baylen, whom he would later marry. The college was under threat of closing, and Brown and Baylen transferred to Wright Junior College. In 1935 he left Wright Junior College and that autumn entered the University of Chicago, completed two years of studies in three quarters, and earned a B.S. in 1936. That same year, he became a naturalized United States citizen. On February 6, 1937, Brown married Baylen, the person he credits with making him interested in hydrides of boron, a topic related to the work in which he, together with Georg Wittig, won the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1979. Two years after starting graduate studies, he earned a Ph.D. in 1938, also from the University of Chicago.
Unable to find a position in industry, he decided to accept a postdoctoral position. This became the beginning of his academic career. He became an instructor at the University of Chicago in 1939, and held the position for four years before moving to Wayne University in Detroit as an assistant professor. In 1946, he was promoted to associate professor. He became a professor of inorganic chemistry at Purdue University in 1947 and joined the Beta Nu chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma there in 1960. He held the position of Professor Emeritus from 1978 until his death in 2004. The Herbert C. Brown Laboratory of Chemistry was named after him on Purdue University's campus. He was an honorary member of the International Academy of Science.
When Brown started his own research, he observed the reactions of diborane with aldehydes, ketones, esters, and acid chlorides. He discovered that diborane reacts with aldehydes and ketones to produce dialkoxyboranes, which are hydrolyzed by water to produce alcohols. Until this point, organic chemists did not have an acceptable method of reducing carbonyls under mild conditions. Yet Brown's Ph.D. thesis published in 1939 received little interest. Diborane was too rare to be useful as a synthetic reagent.
In 1939, Brown became the research assistant in Schlesinger's laboratory. In 1940, they began to research volatile, low molecular weight uranium compounds for the National Defense Research Committee. Brown and Schlesinger successfully synthesized volatile uranium(IV) borohydride, which had a molecular weight of 298. The laboratory was asked to provide a large amount of the product for testing, but diborane was in short supply. They discovered that it could be formed by reacting lithium hydride with boron trifluoride in ethyl ether, allowing them to produce the chemical in larger quantities. This success was met with several new problems. Lithium hydride was also in short supply, so Brown and Schlesinger needed to find a procedure that would allow them to use sodium hydride instead. They discovered that sodium hydride and methyl borate reacted to produce sodium trimethoxyborohydride, which was viable as a substitute for the lithium hydride.
Sodium borohydride is a mild reducing agent that works well in reducing aldehydes, ketones, and acid chlorides. Lithium aluminum hydride is a much more powerful reducing agent that can reduce almost any functional group. When Brown moved to Purdue University in 1947, he worked to find stronger borohydrides and milder aluminum hydrides that would provide a spectrum of reducing agents. The team of researchers at Purdue discovered that changing the metal ion of the borohydride to lithium, magnesium, or aluminum increases the reducing ability. They also found that introducing alkoxy substituents to the aluminum hydride decreases the reducing ability. They successfully developed a full spectrum of reducing agents.
In 1969, he was awarded the National Medal of Science.
In 1971, he received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.
He was inducted into the Alpha Chi Sigma Hall of Fame in 2000.
Currently, Herbert C. Brown is 109 years, 8 months and 2 days old. Herbert C. Brown will celebrate 110th birthday on a Sunday 22nd of May 2022.
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