Bartlett , Neil
(1932– British–American chemist
Bartlett was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and educated at the University of Durham, where he obtained his PhD in 1957. He taught at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and at Princeton before being appointed to a chemistry professorship in 1969 at the University of California, Berkeley.
Bartlett was studying metal fluorides and found that the compound platinum hexafluoride (PtF6) is extremely active. In fact it reacted with molecular oxygen to form the novel compound O2+PtF6. This was the first example of a compound containing the oxygen cation. At the time it was an unquestioned assumption of chemistry that the noble gases – helium, neon, argon, krypton, and xenon – were completely inert, incapable of forming any compounds whatsoever. Further, there was a solid body of valence theory that provided good reasons why this should be so. So struck was Bartlett with the ability of PtF6 to react with other substances that he tried, in 1962, to form a compound between it and xenon. He knew that the ionization potential of xenon was not too much greater than the ionization potential of the oxygen molecule. To his and other chemists' surprise xenon fluoroplatinate (XePtF6) was produced – the first compound of a noble gas. Once the first compound had been detected xenon was soon shown to form other compounds, such as xenon fluoride (XeF4) and oxyfluoride (XeOF4). Krypton and radon were also found to form compounds although the lighter inert gases have so far remained inactive.

Scientists. . 2011.

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