THE FATHER OF NANOTECHNOLOGY:
RICHARD E. SMALLEY
RICHARD ERRETT SMALLEY
Richard Errett Smalley (June 6, 1943 [born one year to the day before D-Day] - October 28, 2005) was a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for the discovery of a new form of carbon, buckminsterfullerene (C60, or "buckyballs") (with Robert Curl and Harold Kroto.)
The youngest of four children, Richard Smalley was born in Akron, Ohio in 1943, and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended Hope College before transferring to the University of Michigan where he received his B.S. in 1965. He worked in industry between his studies, where he developed a unique managerial style. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1973 after a brief stint at Shell Chemical Co. Smalley completed postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago, where, with Lennard Wharton and Donald Levy, he was a pioneer in the development of supersonic beam laser spectroscopy.
Smalley joined the Rice faculty as an assistant professor in chemistry in 1976. He helped launch Rice's Quantum Institute and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, and was cross-appointed as a professor of physics in 1990. Smalley founded Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. in 2000, to commercialize emerging applications of nanotubes.
He earned Rice's highest professorial distinction, University Professor, in 2002. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1998, Smalley was diagnosed with leukemia, (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) which he succumbed to 17 years later. He is survived by his fourth wife, the former Deborah Sheffield, whom he married shortly before his death, and his two sons, Chad, born in 1969, and Preston, born in 1997 (nine months after the Nobel Prize announcement,) one grandchild and his brother, Clayton.
Further reading: Richard Smalley's Autobiography.