Biography of Yuan Tseh Lee (1936-VVVV)

American chemist, born November 19 in Hsinchu (Taiwan), in 1936. He/She graduated in 1959 in Taiwan and earned a doctorate in chemistry in 1965 at the University of California. In 1986 he/she received the Nobel Prize in chemistry shared with Dudley r. Herschbach and John C. Polanyi for his contributions on the dynamics of chemical elementary processes. The technique of molecular beam Crusaders allowed a breakthrough in the field of the dynamics of reactions. Initially the reactions involving alkali atoms were the only ones that were studied because the detection methods used. One of the most sophisticated devices that allowed the field to another type of reactions was developed by Yuan T. Lee, who studied reactions between organic molecules and oxygen or fluorine and subsequently, reaction systems of great relevance in the chemistry of combustion and atmospheric chemistry.

Son of an artist father and a school teacher mother, began his studies at a Taiwan occupied by the Japanese since the Chinese-Japanese war of 1894-1895. Shortly after beginning their primary studies he/she had to interrupt them at the start of the second world war, since the population was evacuated to the mountains to avoid the bombardment of Allied troops. After the war, Taiwan was part of China and it went to school again. At school he/she met Bernice Wu, who to the dessert would end up being his wife and with which he/she had two sons and a daughter.

During their primary and secondary education was involved in several non-academic activities: he/she was a member of the baseball team and table tennis (which went on to win the Taiwan League), playing tennis and was a member of the band playing the trombone. At the same time he/she was an avid reader of books on Science, literature and social sciences. The biography of Madame Curie was impressed so much that he/she decided to become a scientist.

His academic record was so outstanding that he/she was admitted to the National Taiwan University without entrance examination. During the first year of studies leaned by chemistry. The poor infrastructure of Taiwan University was compensated by the atmosphere of freedom that prevailed, the dedication of the teachers and the camaraderie among coworkers. His Bachelor thesis attempted separation of strontium and barium by paper electrophoresis method and was directed by Professor Hua-sheng Cheng.

After his degree in 1959, he/she moved to the University of Tsinghua, where the master of the natural radiosiotopos of the Hukutolita ore under the direction of Professor H. Hamaguchi. At the end of the master, he/she remained at the same University as a research assistant to Professor C. H. Wong and determined the Crystal structure of the triciclopentadienilsamario x-ray diffraction.

In 1962 he/she joined the University of California at Berkeley as a PhD student at the Prof. Bruce Mahan. His research work was the processes of electronically excited alkali atoms chemical ionization, and was during his PhD when he/she became interested in the dynamics of reactions. Once he/she obtained the degree of doctor in 1965, remained in the Group of Mahan and began working with Ron Gentry. In one year he/she learned to design and build a very powerful dispersion apparatus and conducted experiments on the reaction N2 + + H2 ® N2H + + H, very outstanding results for that period.

In February 1967, he/she conducted a postdoctoral stay at Harvard University, in the laboratory of Prof. Dudley Herschbach. Half their time dedicated it to work with Robert Gordon in the reactions between atoms of hydrogen and alkaline diatomic molecules. The other half of the time employed him to build a device that 10 months later allowed them to conduct the first experiment with success of the Cl reaction + Br2 ® BrCl + Br, with a beam of alkaline neutral particles. In 1968 he/she accepted a position at the James Franck Institute of the University of Chicago. There he/she developed a distinguished career and proved to be a very creative chemist in the construction of new units of beam molecular Crusaders, performing with numerous students experiments pioneers in that field. In 1971 he/she was promoted to associate professor and in 1973 Professor.

In 1974 he/she returned to Berkeley as Professor of chemistry and principal investigator at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (University of California). That same year he/she obtained U.S. citizenship. There had sophisticated equipment of molecular, beam specially designed for studying reaction dynamics, the photochemical processes and molecular spectroscopy. Many of his students ended up being professors of prestigious universities, working in national laboratories or in the private sector, which have made important contributions.

Throughout his career Lee received, in addition to the prize Nobel, innumerable awards and honors, including the Ernest O. Lawrence (1981) award and the National Medal of Science (1986).

SHD