Odd Hassel best known for three-dimensionality molecular geometry

Odd Hassel – discoverer of conformational analysis

Article on Odd Hassel

Biography & contributions

Odd Hassel was a Norwegian physical chemist and Nobel Laureate born on May 17, 1897 – died on May 11, 1981. Hassel extensively worked on chemistry for studies relating chemical reactions with the three-dimensional shape of molecules.

Hassel was best known established the three-dimensionality of molecular geometry, discovery of adsorption indicators, organic dyes used in analyzing silver halide chemical compounds. Hassel also used a technique called electron diffraction, in which he passed a beam of electrons through a substance and then analyzed the atomic structure of the substance from how the beam was affected. Hassel thus determined the structure of the substances related to cyclohexane and clarified the possible conformations of their molecules.


Cyclohexane is colourless, flammable liquid with a distinctive detergent-like odor cycloparaffinic hydrocarbon containing 6 carbons. Cyclohexane is used as a nonpolar solvent for the chemical industry. It is slightly soluble in water and soluble in alcohol, acetone, benzene, ethanol, ethyl ether, olive oil, and carbon tetrachloride. Cyclohexane has the lowest angle and torsional strain of all the cycloalkanes. It is also used for calibration of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) instruments.

Cyclohexane is rather unreactive, being a non-polar, hydrophobic hydrocarbon. It reacts with superacids, such as HF + SbF5, which will lead to cracking. Cyclohexane has the lowest angle and torsional strain of all the cycloalkanes, as a result cyclohexane has been deemed a 0 in total ring strain

Cyclohexane is used as a solvent to dissolve cellulose ethers, lacquers, resins, fats, waxes, oils, bitumen and crude rubber. It is also used in perfume manufacturing, during surface coating operations (lacquers), in synthesis of adipic acid for production of nylon 66 and engineering plastics, during synthesis of caprolactam in nylon 6, paint and varnish remover, in the extraction of essential oils, in analytical chemistry for molecular weight determinations, in the manufacturing of adipic acid, benzene, cyclohexyl chloride, nitrocyclohexane, cyclohexanol and cyclohexanone, in the manufacturing of solid fuel for camp stoves, in fungicidal formulations in the industrial recrystallising of steroids, organic synthesis, recrystallising medium glass substitutes, solid fuels, in analytical chemistry and in manufacturing of adhesives.

Electron Diffraction

Electron diffraction, in fact, was observed (1927) by C.J. Davisson and L.H. Germer in New York and by G.P. Thomson in Aberdeen, Scot. Electron diffraction refers to the wave nature of electrons. Electron diffraction is most frequently used in solid state physics and chemistry to study the crystal structure of solids. Electron diffraction is also a useful technique to study the short range order of amorphous solids, and the geometry of gaseous molecules.

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