The Chemistry Department: 1968-1976

The decade spanning the late sixties and the early  seventies saw evolutionary changes year to year, but when this period was over, the sum of the changes were revolutionary: research appropriate to the mission of the funding agency broadened considerably. Nuclear energy was no longer the sole motivation. The energy crisis of the seventies brought renewed interest in energy production of all kinds. The federal research budget was severely squeezed in the early seventies, bringing to Brookhaven (including the Chemistry Department) its first ever round of traumatic layoffs. Finally, by the end of this period, the AEC itself had disappeared twice over. It had been replaced first by the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), and ERDA was then superseded by the cabinet-level Department of Energy. While the closing (twice!) of the parent federal funding agency may have been disruptive, the Chemistry Department weathered those particular events with remarkable equanimity. The programs within the AEC, ERDA, and the DOE that provided most of  the funding to the Chemistry Department changed their names and their portfolios, but maintained a remarkable amount of continuity throughout the decade. 

In the mid seventies, Morris Perlman (Chemistry Department) and Richard Watson (Physics Department) began promoting the utility of synchrotron radiation for studies such as surface photoemission and electron spectroscopy. The notion of a National Synchrotron Light Source was born, and by the late seventies, the NSLS project was well underway. The Chemistry Department was to play a major role in the founding of the NSLS and its scientific program which represented something new for the Chemistry Department: large-scale participation in the "big" facilities for science that had previously been deemed "small science".

The primary sources from which the descriptions below were derived are a series of rather detailed "Annual Reports" which date from the beginning of the Laboratory, were sometimes biannual, and which gave way, in the late nineteen sixties, to a roughly biannual publication called Brookhaven Highlights.

Scientific programs in this period fall into these categories:

Crystallography
Extraterrestrial Chemistry
Nuclear Chemistry
Hot Atom Chemistry
Inorganic Reactions in Solution
Investigations of Archaeological and Historical Materials
Isotope Effects
Laser-Induced Chemistry
Mass Spectrometry
Mssbauer and Electron Spectroscopy
Neutron Scattering
Radiation Chemistry
The Search for Solar Neutrinos
Theoretical Chemistry

Follow the links to find out more.

Top of Page

Last Modified: June 28, 2012