Ralph G Pearson Photo

Ralph G Pearson

Born: Jan 12, 1919

Birthplace: Chicago

Nationality: United States

Ralph G Pearson

Date of Birth : Jan 12, 1919
Birth Place : Chicago

Ralph G. Pearson is a physical inorganic chemist best known for the development of the concept of hard and soft acids and bases. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1943 from Northwestern University, and taught chemistry at Northwestern faculty from 1946 until 1976, when he moved to University of California at Santa Barbara. He retired in 1989 but remains active in research in theoretical inorganic chemistry. In 1963 he proposed the qualitative theory of hard and soft acids and bases in an attempt to unify the theories of reactivity in inorganic and organic chemistry. In this theory 'Hard' applies to species that are small, have high charge states, and are weakly polarizable. 'Soft' applies to species that are large, have low charge states and are strongly polarizable. Acids and bases interact, and the most stable interactions are hard-hard and soft-soft. In 1967 Pearson and Fred Basolo, his colleague at Northwestern wrote the influential monograph "Mechanisms of Inorganic Reactions", which integrated concepts from ligand field theory and physical organic chemistry and signaled a shift from descriptive coordination chemistry to a more quantitative science.

Also known as


  • Ralph Pearson
  • Ralph G. Pearson

Awards Won


  • Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences, US & Canada
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