Harold Kroto

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Sir Harold (Harry) Walter Kroto, KCB, FRS (born 7 October 1939), born Harold Walter Krotoschiner, is a British chemist and one of the three recipients to share the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

He is on faculty at Florida State University, which he joined in 2004; prior to that he spent a large part of his working career at the University of Sussex, where he holds an emeritus professorship.


Early years

Kroto was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England with his name being of Silesian origin.[1] His father's family came from Bojanowo, Poland, and his mother's from Berlin, Germany. Both his parents were born in Berlin but came to Great Britain in the 1930s as refugees from the Nazis because his father was Jewish.

He was raised in Bolton, Lancashire, England, and attended Bolton School, where he was a contemporary of the highly acclaimed actor Ian McKellen. In 1955, the family name was shortened to Kroto.

As a child, he became fascinated by a Meccano set. Kroto credits Meccano — amongst other things — with developing skills useful in scientific research.[2] He developed an interest in chemistry, physics, and mathematics in secondary school, and because his sixth form chemistry teacher (Harry Heaney - who subsequently became a University Professor) felt that the University of Sheffield had the best chemistry department in the United Kingdom, he went to Sheffield.

Although raised Jewish, he has stated that religion never made any sense to him.[1] He is a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association[2].


Early work

In 1961 he obtained a first class BSc honours degree in chemistry at the University of Sheffield, followed in 1964 by a PhD at the same institution. His doctoral research involved high-resolution electronic spectra of free radicals produced by flash photolysis (breaking of chemical bonds by light).

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