Officers and Members of the Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry,
American Chemical Society, note with sorrow the passing of our distinguished
colleague and friend Arthur W. Adamson, on July 22, 2003.
Arthur Adamson was born to American parents in Shanghai, China on
August 15, 1919. He received a B.S. with honors from the University
of California, Berkeley in 1940 and a Ph.D. from the University of
Chicago in 1944. After a two-year stint as Research Associate for
the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, TN he began a career at the University
of Southern California that extended through his appointment as Professor
Emeritus in 1989. He was Chair of the USC Department of Chemistry
from 1972 - 75.
Art Adamson’s introduction to surface chemistry came when he
was a graduate student at the University of Chicago where he worked
with William D. Harkins and George E. Boyd. His first surface chemistry
paper was published in 1944 and was titled, Ion Exchange and the Theory
of Chromatography. Review of his publications shows most significant
contributions to physical adsorption and contact angle phenomena,
the thermodynamics of surfaces and finally, irreversible adsorption.
He was recipient of the ACS Award in Colloid or Surface Chemistry
in 1979. The title of his lecture was, The Nature of the Solid-Gas
and Related Solid-Liquid Interface. It is interesting that he was
recipient of a second major ACS Award, for his contributions to inorganic
photochemistry, only three years later.
Adamson received many honors. He was Unilever Professor at the University
of Bristol, England in 1965-66. He won the ACS Award for Distinguished
Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry in 1982, the ACS
Award in Chemical Education in 1984, the Richard C. Tolman Medal presented
by the ACS Southern California Section in 1967 and the American Institute
of Chemists Gold Medal in 1994. At the University of Southern California
he received the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1979 and in 1984 the
Raubenheimer Award as Outstanding Senior Faculty. He was granted an
honorary DSC from the University of Ferrara, Italy in 1993.
Arthur Adamson is known for his Textbook of Physical Chemistry, his
problem book Understanding Physical Chemistry and his pioneering Concepts
of Inorganic Photochemistry. But of most relevance to this Division
is his Physical Chemistry of Surfaces which has been published in
six editions over a period of thirty-seven years and which has served
as guide for generations of workers in our field.
Arthur Adamson was the founding editor of Langmuir, the ACS Journal
of Surfaces and Colloids. He was Chairman of the ACS Division of Colloid
and Surface Chemistry, a member of the ACS Committee on Publications
and of the ACS Committee on Nominations and Elections. In 1982 he
was formally nominated to be President of the American Chemical Society.
In 1991 the American Chemical Society established in his honor the
Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement
of Surface Chemistry sponsored by Occidental Petroleum Corporation.
A few personal comments are in order. Art Adamson was interested in
history and the people who made our science. For years he made videotapes
of prominent surface and colloid chemists that today are sometimes
the only records we have of their personalities. He was interested
in travel as evidenced by his visiting professorships in Australia
and New Zealand. This writer remembers vividly Art’s account
during the 1960’s of how he traveled to interesting places to
collect snowflakes to use in his studies of adsorption on molecular
solids (ice) because, “who knows whether snow from the southern
is the same as snow from the northern hemisphere?” And he remembers
the delight with which Art and his wife Virginia demonstrated a sure
way for a surface chemist to hold a lady’s hand.
Arthur Adamson has been an inspirator, colleague and friend to the
colloid and surface chemistry community for over fifty years. We mourn
his passing and extend to his family our deepest sympathy. Your husband
and father was a wonderful man.