US chemist, who was awarded the 1966 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on molecules.
The son of an organic chemist, Mulliken was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago, where he was awarded his PhD in 1921. Apart from a brief period in New York, Mulliken spent the whole of his academic career at Chicago, serving from 1931 until his retirement in 1961 as professor of physics.
Mulliken's work in chemistry was concerned with the development of molecular orbital theory. According to his theory, electrons move in orbitals, which encircle several atomic nuclei. The shapes of these orbitals can be calculated, enabling conclusions to be drawn about the energy of bonds, etc. Mulliken also made major contributions to the interpretation of molecular spectra.
Subjects: Science and Mathematics.