Hungarian-American chemist who won the 1994 Nobel Prize for Chemistry
for work conducted in the early 1960s that isolated the positively charged,
electron-deficient fragments of hydrocarbons known as carbocations (or
Although theoretically recognized for several decades as a common intermediate
in many organic reactions, carbocations were unobservable because they
were a short-lived, unstable class of compound. Olah was able to successfully
disassemble, examine, and then recombine carbocations through the use
of superacids and ultracold solvents. His breakthrough, announced in
1962, initiated a new branch of organic chemistry and led to the development
of innovative carbon-based fuels and higher-octane gasoline.
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