ASBMB Nobel Prize Winners

1976 – William N. Lipscomb, Jr.



William Nunn Lipscomb, Jr. (1919- present) was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies of the structure of boranes (compounds made of boron and hydrogen), which brought new insight into the nature of chemical bonding. With his colleagues, he was able to determine the molecular structures of numerous boranes and their derivatives. Since the stability of boranes could not be explained by traditional concepts of electron bonding, Lipscomb developed new X-ray techniques, which showed how a pair of electrons could be shared by three atoms. He later applied these techniques to carboranes, which are clusters of boron and hydrogen shaped like polyhedra. Lipscomb also studied proteins and examined the relationship between three-dimensional structures of enzymes and how they work.