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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 16 (2011) pp 143-148

Nobel Laureate John Bennett Fenn (1917-2010), Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry Pioneer

George B. Kauffman* and Jean-Pierre Adloff

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,; Honorary Professor, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France F-67100,

Published: 2 June 2011

Abstract. John Bennett Fenn (1917–2010) died in Richmond, Virginia on December 10, 2010 at the age of 93 on the exact day of the annual ceremony of the Nobel Prize awards and the 115th birthday of Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833–1896). His demise coincided with the eighth anniversary of his Nobel Prize for Chemistry, awarded on December 10, 2002, when he was 85 years old, the oldest Nobel laureate in Chemistry to date. This obituary-tribute discusses his life and career, with emphasis on his research on molecular beams and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, his Nobel-Prize-winning work. Statements by Fenn about his life, science, and chemical education are included.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; history of chemistry; history of physics; biography; nobel prize; instrumentation; electrospray ionization; mass spectrometry; vacuum spectrometry; molecular beams; flame reactions; gas expansion; supersonic free jet expansion; biomolecular techniques; lasers; academic research; industrial research; multidisciplinary research; medical research; molecular biology; aerodynamics; office of naval research; chemical education

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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