TCE ForumWhats NewSearchOrders


The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 17 (2012) pp 023-034
DOI 10.1007/s00897122409a

Neil Bartlett (1932–2008), The Nobel Prize-Worthy Founder of Noble Gas Chemistry: A Belated Obituary-Tribute

George B. Kauffman

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,

Published: 9 March 2012

Abstract. Neil Bartlett (1932–2008), one of the foremost chemists of the twentieth century, who demonstrated that xenon, a member of the family of noble gases (previously known as the inert gases), was able to form compounds, died unexpectedly at the age of 75 of an aortic aneurysm on August 5, 2008 in Walnut Creek, California. His revolutionary discovery forced every teacher or textbook author of general chemistry to revise his or her previous treatment of atomic structure. The history of the discovery of the noble gases, Bartlett’s life and career, the events leading up to his discovery, the discovery itself, and subsequent events in noble gas chemistry by Bartlett and others, and the reasons why Bartlett never received the Nobel Prize in chemistry are presented. Extensive quotes by Bartlett are included.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; Nobel prizes; biography; noble gases; inert gases; octet rule; fluorine chemistry; chemistry education; chemistry textbooks; atomic structure; periodic system; scientific dogmas

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (920 KB) HTML format

© The Chemical Educator 1996-2015