Vol. 5 No. 1 (2021)
Historical Articles

New Insight into the “Fortuitous Error” that Led to the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Seth C Rasmussen
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58108 USA
Bio
Hideki Shirakawa and Hyung Chick Pyun in 1967

Published 2021-03-01

Keywords

  • polyacetylene,
  • plastic films,
  • Nobel Prize 2020,
  • polymerization conditions,
  • Ziegler-Natta catalysis

How to Cite

Rasmussen, S. C. (2021). New Insight into the “Fortuitous Error” that Led to the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Substantia, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.36253/Substantia-973

Abstract

In 2000, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Hideki Shirakawa, Alan G. MacDiarmid, and Alan J. Heeger “for the discovery and development of electrically conductive polymers.” While this award was in reference to their collaborative efforts on conducting polyacetylene in the mid-to-late 1970s, the narrative leading up to these efforts began in 1967 with the production of polyacetylene plastic films via what has been called a "fortuitous error." At the heart of this discovery were Shirakawa and a visiting Korean scientist, Hyung Chick Pyun. The current report provides background on Pyun and, for the first time, presents his version of the events leading to the discovery of polyacetylene films in order to provide new insight into this important historical event.

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