American chemist and Nobel laureate Richard Heck died in Manila on Saturday after years of illnesses that left him almost penniless, relatives of his Filipina wife said on Saturday.
Heck, 84, along with Japanese Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki, won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 2010 for inventing new ways to bind carbon atoms that were used in research to fight cancer and produce thin computer screens.
He was affiliated with the University of Delaware in the United States when he developed his work on palladium as a catalyst, called the Heck reaction, in the 1960s and early 1970s. The two Japanese scientists came through with their variants of the same process in the late 1970s.I liked Doug Taber's remembrance of him:
“Before Heck, all carbon-carbon bond formation required an equal amount of metal. Dick was the first to form carbon-carbon bonds using only a small amount of the expensive metal,” he said. “This was the beginning of organometallic catalysis, now the basis of everything from pharmaceutical synthesis to polymer production.”
Taber also remembers Dr. Heck’s passion for horticulture. “When I first visited his home, in January, he disappeared into his heated greenhouse and came back with a perfectly ripe cherry tomato for me to eat.”My condolences to the Heck family.