Franklin Professor of Chemistry
Lamar Dodd Award
Gregory H. Robinson, Franklin Professor of Chemistry, is recognized worldwide as a leading scientist in the synthesis of unusual main group element chemical compounds. In 1995, he was the first to install a triple bond between two gallium atoms. More recently, his research group synthesized the first neutral compound containing a double bond between two boron atoms—the first diborene—by using stabilizing bases.
In 2008, his research team stunned the scientific community by discovering a new base-stabilized soluble allotrope of elemental silicon. In this compound, two silicon atoms, each in the highly reactive zero-oxidation state, are connected by a double bond. This achievement was hailed in top journals, including Science, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nature and Chemical and Engineering News as “a major advance in low-valent, low-coordinate main group chemistry” and one that “opens up new unprecedented possibilities in organometallic chemistry.” This technique of employing bases as stabilizing influences for otherwise fleeting molecules is widely considered a seminal discovery. The work of Robinson’s group has provided both a stimulus for main group element chemical research and textbook examples for new science.