Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins developed orbital theory of conjugated organic molecules

Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins - a theoretical chemist

Article on Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins

Biography & Contributions

Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins was a theoretical chemist and a cognitive scientist born on April 11, 1923 – died on March 27, 2004. He mainly worked on application of precise mathematical analyses to chemical problems and as an undergraduate he proposed the correct structure of the chemical compound diborane. Higgins also predicted the structures of Boron hydrides, Beryllium hydride. In 1947 He developed the orbital theory of conjugated organic molecules. Higgins also investigated the optical properties of helical molecules.


Diborane is consisting of boron and hydrogen. It is a colorless and highly unstable gas at room temperature with a repulsively sweet odor. Diborane mixes well with air, easily forming explosive mixtures. Diborane will ignite spontaneously in moist air at room temperature. Diborane is a highly reactive and versatile reagent that has a large number of applications. Its dominating reaction pattern involves formation of adducts with Lewis bases. Diborane also reacts readily with alkynes to form substituted alkene products which will readily undergo further addition reactions.

Diborane and its variants are central organic synthesis reagents for hydroboration, whereby alkenes add across the B-H bonds to give trialkylboranes. Diborane is used as a reducing agent roughly complementary to the reactivity of lithium aluminium hydride. Diborane has been suggested as a rocket propellant and experimentally fired but not used in any in service rocket, as a rubber vulcaniser, as a catalyst for hydrocarbon polymerisation, as a flame-speed accelerator, and as a doping agent for the production of semiconductors.

It is also an intermediate in the production of highly pure boron for semiconductor production. It is also used to coat the walls of tokamaks to reduce the amount of heavy metal impurities in the plasma.

Beryllium Hydride

Beryllium Hydride is a colorless solid chemical compound. It was first synthesized in 1951 by treating dimethylberyllium, Be(CH3)2, with lithium aluminium hydride, LiAlH4. Beryllium hydride reacts slowly with water but is rapidly hydrolyzed by acid such as hydrogen chloride to form beryllium chloride.

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