George Claude Pimentel

  • From:

    University of California, Berkeley

  • Year:

    1985

  • Subject:

    Physics

  • Award:

    Franklin

  • Citation:

    For the discovery of matrix isolation spectroscopy and the chemical laser.

Born in California, George Claude Pimentel obtained his undergraduate degree at UCLA in 1943. After graduation, Dr. Pimentel briefly worked on the Manhattan Project at Berkeley before joining the Navy. After his military service, Dr. Pimentel attended the University of California at Berkeley, and received his Ph.D. in 1949. He then became a faculty member at Berkeley, and remained there until his death in 1989.

Dr. Pimentel dicovered the chemically pumped laser; developed the matrix isolation method for the spectroscopic detection of unstable molecules; developed high-speed infrared techniques; designed the infrared spectrometer for the 1969 Mariner spacecraft to determine the composition of the atmosphere of Mars; and studied chemiluminescence and spectroscopic mapping of reaction potential energy surfaces.

Dr. Pimentel was devoted to the cause of education, and is credited with revitalizing chemistry teaching in high schools with the authorship of Chemistry: An Experimental Science, a groundbreaking text. In addition to the Benjamin Franklin Medal from The Franklin Institute, Dr. Pimentel was honored with Israel's Wolf Prize (1982), the National Medal of Science (1985), the Welch Award (1986), and the Priestley Medal (1989). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1966.

Information as of 1985