Menu

Crystallography Innovator Dies

Philip Coppens, who developed photocrystallography, has passed away at age 86.

Jun 26, 2017
Kerry Grens

NANCY J. PARISIPhilip Coppens, a longtime chemist at the University at Buffalo who developed the technique of photocrystallography, died June 21 at age 86.

“Philip was a giant in his field and pioneered the technique of time-resolved X-ray crystallography, which has become a major area in X-ray science,” David Watson, professor and chair of the chemistry department at the University at Buffalo, says in a press release. “He was renowned for promoting the discipline, organizing international meetings, and mentoring younger colleagues in his field.”

Coppens was born in the Netherlands and earned his PhD at the University of Amsterdam in 1960. As he wrote in a memoir in 2015: “I was attracted by the beauty of crystals and their periodic arrangement, the mathematical aspects, and the fact that crystallography, unlike some other physical methods, could produce unambiguous results.”

Much of his graduate work was conducted at the Weizmann Institute with Gerhard Schmidt, who encouraged Coppens to apply X-ray crystallography to solving chemical problems, not just determining crystal structures.

Coppens set up his lab at the University at Buffalo, and remained active there even after his retirement last year. “He became one of the first researchers in the world to use a method called X-ray diffraction to study the bonds connecting atoms and molecules inside crystals,” according to a 2016 press release honoring his career. “Later, he broke new ground again by using X-ray diffraction to investigate the effect of light on crystals and how crystals themselves emit light.”

In 2014, during the United Nations’ International Year of Crystallography, Chemical & Engineering News chose Coppens’s 1994 crystal structure of the nitroprusside ion as one of its top 10 X-ray crystal structures. The feat marked the beginning of excited-state X-ray crystallography, as opposed to studying molecules in stasis.

See “Following reactions with X-ray crystallography

According to his memoir, Coppens’s work in recent years included continuing to advance time-resolved crystallography and to study “the function of doped titanium oxide particles in photovoltaic cells.”

Coppens is survived by his wife, three sons, three grandchildren, and four nieces and nephews.

February 2019

Big Storms Brewing

Can forests weather more major hurricanes?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Bio-Rad Releases First FDA-Cleared Digital PCR System and Test for Monitoring Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Response
Bio-Rad Releases First FDA-Cleared Digital PCR System and Test for Monitoring Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Response
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced that its QXDx AutoDG ddPCR System, which uses Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital PCR technology, and the QXDx BCR-ABL %IS Kit are the industry’s first digital PCR products to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance. Used together, Bio-Rad’s system and kit can precisely and reproducibly monitor molecular response to treatment in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) today showcases new automation features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer during the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (SLAS) in Washington, D.C., February 2–6. These capabilities enable the ZE5 to be used for high-throughput flow cytometry in biomarker discovery and phenotypic screening.
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Researchers to benefit from an innovative software-connected pipetting system, bringing improved reproducibility and traceability of experiments to life-science laboratories.
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) will showcase advanced 3D cell culture technologies and workflow solutions for spheroids, organoids, tissue models, and applications including ADME/toxicology at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference, Feb. 2-6 in Washington, D.C.