Latimer, and Lewis were all interested in nuclear chemistry, and
Lewis strongly supported the hiring of E. O. Lawrence by the physics
department in 1928. In 1933, Robert D. Fowler and Willard F. Libby
were the first nuclear chemists added to the chemistry faculty.
Libby had received his Ph.D. with Latimer in 1933; he built one
of the first Geiger counters in this country and stayed on as a
faculty member until leaving for war work in 1942. In 1960, Libby
received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for carbon-14 dating.
nuclear people often worked in a wooden building, called the Old
Radiation Laboratory, built for early Lawrence cyclotrons, just
north of Gilman Hall; or they worked in the old annex, which had
been built for Lewis. The other nuclear faculty included Samuel
Ruben, Joseph W. Kennedy, and Glenn T. Seaborg, all appointed in
1939. Ruben and M. D. Kamen, a physics student, first reported the
preparation of carbon-14 in 1941. Their work on photosynthesis was
halted by Ruben's untimely death in 1943.
received his Ph.D. with Gibson in 1937 on the topic of neutron interactions
and then worked with Lewis on generalized acids and bases for two
years while pursuing his interest in nuclear chemistry. Seaborg,
working with Kennedy, Edwin M. McMillan of the physics faculty,
and Arthur C. Wahl, identified the first known isotope of plutonium
in room 307 of Gilman Hall in February 1941. This discovery was
followed by the preparation of a new fissile isotope of uranium
(U-233) by Seaborg, J. W. Gofman, and R. W. Stoughton.