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Biographical Memoirs, Volume 86
HARRY GEORGE DRICKAMER
November 19, 1918–May 6, 2002
BY JIRI JONAS
HARRY GEORGE DRICKAMER (“Doc” to all his students) was a pioneer in high-pressure studies of condensed matter, with a major focus on pressure tuning spectroscopy. The energies associated with different types of orbitals can be varied to different degrees by compression. From these perturbations a wealth of information can be obtained about the electronic and vibrational properties and molecular interactions in various systems. The concept of pressure tuning, which Harry Drickamer developed and exploited, became a tool of great power and versatility, presently used by many research groups throughout the world. Harry Drickamer’s own research has had a strong impact in the fields of physical, inorganic and organic chemistry, chemical engineering, solid-state physics, geophysics, and biochemistry. From an experimentalist’s point of view it is most remarkable that Harry Drickamer was able to develop and perfect high-pressure instrumentation for so many spectroscopic and nonspectroscopic techniques, to name a few: infrared spectroscopy, Mossbauer spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, conductivity measurements, and scintillation experiments. Furthermore, he was the first to develop instrumentation for high-pressure experiments to many hundreds of kilobars.