Curriculum Vitae

In 1996, Harry Kroto was knighted for contributions to chemistry and later that year, together with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley (of Rice University, Houston, Texas), received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the discovery of C60 Buckminsterfullerene a new form of carbon.



Fellow of the Royal Society (1990), Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (US), President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2002-2004). Longstaff Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1993), Faraday Lecturer 2001 (Royal Society), Copley Medal of the Royal Society (2002), Erasmus Medal of Academia Europaea, Freeman of the City of Torino. 


Year Location
1939 Born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
1947 - 1958 Bolton school
1958 - 1961 The University of Sheffield. BSc, First class honours degree, Chemistry.
1961 - 1964 The University of Sheffield.  PhD, Molecular Spectroscopy.
1964 - 1966 National Research Council, Ottawa, Post doc.
1966 - 1967 Bell Telephone Laboratories, NJ
1967 - 2004 University of Sussex. Tutorial fellow, lecturer, 1968. Reader, 1977.
Professor, 1985-2005. Royal Society Research Professor, 1991 - 2001.
1990 - 1995 UCLA, visiting professor
1996 - 2003 UCSB, visiting professor
2004 - 2016 FSU, Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry.

Research fields

1961 - 1970

  • Electronic spectroscopy of free radicals and unstable intermediates in the gas phase.
  • Raman spectroscopy of intermolecular interactions in the liquid phase.
  • Theoretical studies of electronic properties ground and excited states of small molecules and free radicals.

1970 - 1980

Research focused on the creation of new molecules with multiple bonds between carbon and elements, mainly of the second and third row of the Periodic Table (S, Se and P), which were reluctant to form such a link.

These studies showed that many of these previously assumed impossible species could be produced, studied by spectroscopy and used as valuable synthons leading to a wide class of new phosphorus containing compounds.

In particular, the spectroscopic studies of molecules with carbon-phosphorus multiple bonds (C=P and C?P) were the pioneering studies that initiated the now prolific field of Phosphaalkene/alkyne Chemistry.

1975 - 1980

Laboratory and radioastronomy studies on long linear carbon chain molecules (the cyanopolyynes) led to the surprising discovery (by radioastronomy) that they existed in interstellar space and also in stars.

Since these first observations the carbon chains have become a major area of modern research by molecular spectroscopists and astronomers interested in the chemistry of space.

1985 - 1990

The revelation (1975-1980) that long chain molecules existed in space could not be explained by the then accepted ideas on interstellar chemistry. It was during attempts to rationalise their abundance that C60 Buckminsterfullerene was discovered.

Laboratory experiments at Rice University, which simulated the chemical reactions in the atmospheres of red giant carbon stars, serendipitously revealed the fact that the C60 molecule could self-assemble. This ability to self-assemble has completely changed our perspective on the nanoscale behaviour of graphite in particular and sheet materials in general. The molecule was subsequently isolated independently at the University of Sussex and structurally characterised.

1990 - 2004

Present research focuses on Fullerene chemistry and the nanoscale structure of new materials, in particular nanotubes. This has led to a wide range of new nanostructured materials, the first insulated nanowires and new perspectives on the mechanism of nanotube formation.

2004 onwards

The research programme was set up at Florida State, aimed at

  • a deeper understanding of the range molecular constituents of carbon vapour
  • the development of novel 2D arrays and associated open framework systems of metal cluster/organic linkers as well as peptides
  • the of stabilization small fullerenes
  • carbon nanotube based devices

Key collaborations

  • D R M Walton (Sussex), T Oka, L Avery, N Broten and J MacLeod (NRC Ottawa) on carbon chain molecules in the laboratory and space
  • J F Nixon on phosphaalkene/alkyne chemistry (at Sussex)
  • R Taylor and D R M Walton on Fullerene chemistry and nanostructures (at Sussex)
  • R F Curl, J R Heath, S C O’Brien, Y Liu and R E Smalley (at Rice University Texas) on the discovery of Buckminsterfullerene
  • Naresh Dalal (FSU), Tony Cheetham (UCSB/Cambridge) on new materials research
  • Alan Marshall (FSU) on carbon vapour research

Educational initiatives

  • Chairman of the board of the Vega Science Trust ( which produces science programmes for network television. 150 have been made with 75 broadcast on the BBC.
  • Member of National Advisory Committee on Cultural and Creative Education (UK).
  • Global Educational Outreach for Science Engineering and Technology (GeoSet
  • Director of the Florida Centre for Research in Science Technology and Maths Education (FCR-STEM)


  • Fellow of the Royal Society (1990)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2002-2004)
  • Mexican Academy of Science; Member Academia Europaea (1993)
  • Honorary Foreign Member Korean Academy of Science and Technology (1997)
  • Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society (1998)
  • Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1998)
  • Honorary Fellow of the RSC (2000)
  • Foreign Member Finnish Academy of Sciences
  • Academy of Sciences (Torino 2005)
  • Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (US 2007)

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