Kenichi Fukui


Born October 4th, 1918 in Nara Prefecture. Director, Institute for Fundamental Chemistry, Kyoto, Japan.

Co-recipient 1981 Nobel prize for Chemistry (with Roald Hoffmann). Order of Culture : Person of Cultural Merits (1981, Japan). Japan Academy Prize 1962. Foreign Associate, National Academy of Sciences 1981. Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1983. Member, European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities 1981. Member, Japan Academy 1983. Full Member, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 1985. Honorary Member, The Royal Institution of Great Britain 1989. Foreign Member, The Royal Society 1989.

Author of:

"A Molecular Orbital Theory of Reactivity in Aromatic Hydrocarbons" K. Fukui, T. Yonezawa, H. Shingu, J. Chem. Phys., 20, 722 (1952).

K. Fukui, in Molecular Orbitals in Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Lowdin P.-O. and Pullman B., eds., Academic (1964), New York, N.Y., p.513.

"A Formulation of the Reaction Coordinate," K. Fukui, J. Phys. Chem., 74, 4161 (1970).

"The Path of Chemical Reactions - The IRC Approach," K. Fukui, Acc. Chem. Res., 14, 363 (1981).

"Interaction Frontier Orbitals," K. Fukui, N. Koga, H. Fujimoto, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 103, 196 (1981).

Important Contributions:

  • A general method to explain the orientation and stereoselection in chemical reactions is given based on the model in which the electron delocalization between the highest occupied molecular orbitals of a reactant and the lowest unoccupied molecular orbitals of a reagent plays an essential role. These particular orbitals are popularly called "frontier orbitals". The symmetry of frontier orbitals is shown to be significant in various sorts of cyclic additions and intramolecular rearrangements.
  • A mathematical formulation of reaction coordinate, named as "intrinsic reaction coordinate", is carried out with respect to the path of each elementary reaction. This approach enables calculation of the change of energy and geometry of reacting molecules and various correlation diagrams along the reaction path, as well as calculation of wave-mechanical absolute rates of chemical reactions.
  • The diagonalization of delocalization energy gives a quantitative representation of the frontier orbitals "for the reacting species", which is combined with the intrinsic reaction coordinate approach giving a means of "visualization" of a chemical reaction.

An obituary can be found at