Rudolph Arthur Marcus

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Rudolph A. Marcus

Rudolph Arthur Marcus (born July 21, 1923 in Montréal , Canada ) is an American chemist . He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1992 for his contributions to the theory of electron transfer in chemical systems. See Marcus theory .


Rudolph A. Marcus was born in Montreal in Canada and studied at the McGill University , where he received his bachelor's degree in 1943 and 1946 at Carl A. Winkler with the work Studies on the conversion of PHX to ACAN doctorate . From 1949 to 1951 he was a research assistant at the University of North Carolina . In 1951 he was assistant professor, 1954 associate professor and then professor at the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn . In 1960/61 he was also a member of the Courant Institute . From 1964 to 1978 he was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in 1978 he became a professor at the California Institute of Technology inPasadena ( Arthur Amos Noyes Professor ).

1962 to 1964 he was a visiting scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory . 1975 to 1976 he was Professorial Fellow at University College in Oxford and 1972/73 Fulbright Hayes Senior Scholar. In the 1960s he was a member of the Gordon Research Conference (1968/69 as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Board of Trustees). In 1996 he was Linett Visiting Professor at Cambridge.

In 1949 he married Laura Hearne, with whom he has three sons. He is a US citizen.

Honors and memberships

In addition to the Nobel Prize, he received other important awards, such as the Wolf Prize (1984) and the National Medal of Science (1989). In 1998 he received the Wilhelm Jost Memorial Medal, the Irving Langmuir Award in 1978 , the Robinson Medal of the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1982 and its Centenary Medal in 1988, the Theodore William Richards Medal of the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society in 1990, and the Ira in 1991 Remsen Memorial Award and in 1988 the Peter Debye Award and the Willard Gibbs Award and in 1993 the Joseph O. Hirschfelder Prize . In 1994 he received the Lavoisier Medal from the French Chemical Society. He was u. a. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1970), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1973), the Royal Society (1987) and the American Philosophical Society (1990). In 1993 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada . From 1960 to 1963 he was a Sloan Research Fellow . In 1976 he received a Humboldt Research Award . In 1991 he became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

He holds multiple honorary doctorates (University of Chicago, University of Gothenburg, McGill University, Queen's University, University of New Brunswick, Oxford, University of North Carolina, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Yokohama National University, University of Valencia, Technion, Northwestern University, University of Waterloo, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, University of Hyderabad in India, University of Calgary, University of Santiago in Chile).


Rudolph A. Marcus worked from 1956 to 1965 mainly on the transfer of electrons between two molecular states that are in a polar or polarizable solvent. With the help of simple mathematical equations, he was able to explain and describe this process (Marcus theory). An essential result was the realization that the high-dimensional potential surface of the system, which arises due to the large number of solvent molecules and their degrees of freedom, can be described by a parabolic potential (similar to the harmonic oscillator) along a collective coordinate q. The basic assumption of this approach is that the distortion of the solvent due to the displacement of the charge can be equated with the pulling of a spring. Although very simple, this model has proven itself in a wide variety of systems. With slight modifications it was even possible to describe the charge transfer at interfaces, which plays an important role in electrolytic reactions, for example.

He is also one of the authors of the RRKM theory named after him and others .


  • Bernhard Kupfer: Lexicon of Nobel Prize Winners . Patmos Verlag, Düsseldorf 2001, ISBN 3-491-72451-1 .
  • Brockhaus Nobel Prizes - Chronicle of Outstanding Achievements . Brockhaus, Mannheim 2004, ISBN 3-7653-0492-1 .
  • RA Marcus: On the Theory of Oxidation-Reduction Reactions Involving Electron Transfer. I. In: Journal of Chemical Physics . Volume 24, 1956, p. 966.
  • RJD Miller, G. L McLendon, AJ Nozik, W. Schmickler and F. Willig: Surface Electron-Transfer Processes. VCH, New York 1995.

Web links

Commons : Rudolph A. Marcus  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Biographical data, publications and academic family tree of Rudolph A. Marcus at, accessed on January 2, 2019.
  2. Pamela Kalte u. a., American Men and Women of Science , Thomson Gale 2004