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Erich Hückel

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Erich Hückel

Erich Hückel
Erich Hückel in 1938
Born (1896-08-09)August 9, 1896
Berlin, Germany
Died February 16, 1980(1980-02-16) (aged 83)
Above Rudolf Hilsch and Otto Scherzer, in front Erich Hückel, 1935 at Stuttgart

Erich Armand Arthur Joseph Hückel ForMemRS[1] (August 9, 1896, Berlin – February 16, 1980, Marburg) was a German physicist and physical chemist.[2] He is known for two major contributions:

Hückel was born in the Charlottenburg suburb of Berlin. He studied physics and mathematics from 1914 to 1921 at the University of Göttingen.

On receiving his doctorate, he became an assistant at Göttingen, but soon became an assistant to Peter Debye at Zürich. It was there that he and Debye developed their theory (the Debye–Hückel theory, in 1923) of electrolytic solutions, elucidating the behavior of strong electrolytes by considering interionic forces, in order to account for their electrical conductivity and their thermodynamic activity coefficients.[3]

After spending 1928 and 1929 in England and Denmark, working briefly with Niels Bohr, Hückel joined the faculty of the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart. In 1935, he moved to Phillips University in Marburg, where he finally was named Full Professor a year before his retirement 1961. He was a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science.

Theories of unsaturated organic molecules

Hückel is most famous for developing simplified 4n+2 rule for determining whether ring molecules composed of C=C bonds would show aromatic properties was first stated clearly by Doering in a 1951 article on tropolone.[5] Tropolone had been recognised as an aromatic molecule by Dewar in 1945.

In 1936, Hückel developed the theory of π-conjugated biradicals (non-Kekulé molecules). The first example, known as the Schlenk-Brauns hydrocarbon, had been discovered in the same year. The credit for explaining such biradicals is usually given to Christopher Longuet-Higgins in 1950.[6]

In 1937 Hückel refined his MO theory of Pariser–Parr–Pople method succeeded it in 1953. "Extended Hückel MO theory" (EHT) applies to both sigma and pi electrons, and has its origins in work by William Lipscomb and Roald Hoffmann for nonplanar molecules in 1962.


  1. ^ Hartmann, H.;  
  2. ^ Suchy, K. (May 1980). "Obituary: Erich Hückel". Physics Today 33 (5): 72–75.  
  3. ^ K.J. Laidler and J.H. Meiser, "Physical Chemistry" (Benjamin/Cummings 1982) pp. 261–270 (conductivity) and pp. 292–294 (activity coefficients)
  4. ^ Lennard-Jones, J. E. (1929). "The electronic structure of some diatomic molecules". Transactions of the Faraday Society 25: 668–665.  
  5. ^ Doering, W. V. N. E.; Detert, F. L. (1951). "Cycloheptatrienylium Oxide". Journal of the American Chemical Society 73 (2): 876.  
  6. ^ Longuet-Higgins, H. C. (1950). "Some Studies in Molecular Orbital Theory I. Resonance Structures and Molecular Orbitals in Unsaturated Hydrocarbons". The Journal of Chemical Physics 18 (3): 265–261.  

Further reading

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