Christopher Kelk Ingold
Ingold, as photographed in Michigan State University.
|Born||28 October 1893|
London, United Kingdom
|Died||8 December 1970 (aged 77)|
|Alma mater||Hartley University College (now University of Southampton)|
Imperial College London
|Known for||Organic reaction mechanisms|
|Institutions||Imperial College London|
University of Leeds
University College London
|Thesis||Formation and stability of carbon rings (1921)|
|Academic advisors||Jocelyn Field Thorpe|
|Doctoral students||Ronald Gillespie|
Ronald Sydney Nyholm
Sir Christopher Kelk Ingold  (28 October 1893 - 8 December 1970) was a British chemist based in Leeds and London. His groundbreaking work in the 1920s and 1930s on reaction mechanisms and the electronic structure of organic compounds was responsible for the introduction into mainstream chemistry of concepts such as nucleophile, electrophile, inductive and resonance effects, and such descriptors as SN1, SN2, E1, and E2. He also was a co-author of the Cahn-Ingold-Prelog priority rules. Ingold is regarded as one of the chief pioneers of physical organic chemistry.
Born in London to a silk merchant who died of tuberculosis when Ingold was five years old, Ingold began his scientific studies at Hartley University College at Southampton (now Southampton University) taking an external BSc in 1913 with the University of London. He then joined the laboratory of Jocelyn Field Thorpe at Imperial College, London, with a brief hiatus from 1918-1920 during which he conducted research into chemical warfare and the manufacture of poison gas with Cassel Chemical at Glasgow. He earned an MSc degree from the University of London, and returned to Imperial College in 1920 for work with Thorpe. He was awarded a PhD in 1918 and a DSc in 1921.
In 1924, Ingold moved to the University of Leeds, where he spent six years as professor of organic chemistry. He returned to London in 1930, and served for 24 years as head of the chemistry department at University College London, from 1937 until his retirement in 1961.
During his study of alkyl halides, Ingold found evidence for two possible reaction mechanisms for nucleophilic substitution reactions. He found that tertiary alkyl halides underwent a two-step mechanism (SN1) while primary and secondary alkyl halides underwent a one-step mechanism (SN2). This conclusion was based on the finding that reactions of tertiary alkyl halides with nucleophiles were dependent on the concentration of the alkyl halide only. Meanwhile, he discovered that primary and secondary alkyl halides, when reacting with nucleophiles, depend on both the concentration of the alkyl halide and the concentration of the nucleophile.
In 1920, Ingold was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his wartime research involving "great courage in carrying out work in a poisonous atmosphere, and risking his life on several occasions in preventing serious accidents," though he subsequently never discussed the award or this period in his life. He received the Longstaff Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1951, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1952, and was knighted in 1958. The chemistry department of University College London is now housed in the Sir Christopher Ingold building, opened in 1969.
Ingold authored and co-authored 443 papers.
Dr. Malmberg's class: K.P.