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Neil Bartlett

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Biography of Alfred Bartlett

Neil Bartlett was born September 15, 1932 as an English-born American chemist. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His father was a World War I veteran who had worked as a shipwright; he has four generations of his Scottish ancestors. His mother was Anne Vock Bartlett. His family owned a grocery store. Neil Bartlett was one of three children and he recalls his childhood happily. He has an older brother named Ken. One of his earliest, formative memories was of a laboratory experiment he conducted in a grammar school class as twelve year old. In the experiment, he mixed a solution of aqueous ammonia (colorless) with copper sulfate (blue) in water, causing a reaction which would eventually produce "beautiful, well-formed crystals."

He began to immerse himself in chemistry to the extent that he built his own makeshift laboratory in his parent's home, complete with flasks and beakers and chemicals he purchased at a local supply store. That curiosity carried over into academic success and eventually earned him a scholarship for his undergraduate education. In 1958 he went to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, where he made a startling discovery. In 1966 he went to the United States, first being affiliated with Princeton University, where he held a chair in conjunction with a position at Bell Laboratories. He stayed on the UBC faculty until 1966. In 1969 he joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley in conjunction with a position at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The historical and political situation during his time was the Great Depression and the aftermath of it. Neil Bartlett was alive during the Great Depression. He discovered and characterized many new fluorine compounds and also produced many new metallic graphite compounds, including some that show promise as powerful battery materials.

His contribution to chemistry was he in 1962 he prepared the first noble gas compound, xenon hexafluoroplatinate, Xe+[PtF6]-. This contradicted all ideas chemists had of the nature

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