April 18, 1898-November 25, 1980
BY JOHN M. WHITE WITH PAMELA J. COOK
WILLIAM ALBERT NOYES saw himself, his memoirs reveal, as A Victorian in the Twentieth Century. A man of both discipline and imagination, he believed that his were especially interesting times, when science was advancing rapidly and the political face of the world was changing. He was not only an eminent photochemist, but a scholar with broad interests and a liberal philosophy. Albert Noyes considered himself, at bottom, a "university man," but his life encompassed numerous activities and enterprises outside the realm of academics. He died in Austin, Texas, on November 25, 1980.
The research career of Albert Noyes, pioneer of photochemistry, is well-documented in over 200 publications. His early work dealt with the identification of primary photochemical events and their connections to spectroscopic facts. The classic text with Philip Leighton, The Photochemistry of Gases (1941), describes much of this, and other work, up to 1941. Noyes's later work centered on the photochemistry and photophysics of ketones, particularly acetone, and simple aromatic compounds. Toward the end of his career, he became interested in the photochemistry of polymers, which he correctly thought would be at the heart of the next generation of photochemical research.