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Kohn, Walter

Kohn, Walter, 1923–2016, American physicist, b. Vienna, Austria, Ph.D. Harvard, 1948. The son of Austrian Jews, he was transported to England in a rescue convoy after Nazi Germany absorbed (1938) Austria, was later (1940) deported to and detained in Canada as an enemy alien, and then served in the Canadian army. Kohn taught at Carnegie Institute of Technology from 1950 to 1960 and at the Univ. of California, San Diego, from 1960 to 1979. He became a professor at the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, in 1979 (emeritus from 1991 until his death). In 1998 Kohn received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with John Pople for his development of the density-functional theory, a method for calculating the properties of molecules that was computationally simpler than previous techniques. With the advent of supercomputers, his work became a critical tool in the field of electronic materials science and in the development of new medicines.

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