James Burton Nichols
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Born in Danbury, Connecticut, Burton Nichols was only a few months old when his father died. His mother then found employment in the local industry so as to support Nichols and his sister. Encouraged by the high school superintendent, Nichols won scholarships to help him through his undergraduate studies of chemistry at Cornell, where he completed a senior research project with Wilder D. Bancroft. At Bancroft's urging, Burton Nichols met Svedberg, who was then on his way to Wisconsin on sabbatical leave, and followed him to Madison. His introduction to sedimentation techniques was by construction of a pioneer optical centrifuge and its use in pigment characterization. Fellowships enabled the newly-married Nichols and his bride to go to Uppsala where he contributed to the early development of the ultra-centrifuge. Recollections of this period are followed by an account of his arrival at the DuPont Experimental Station to work in Kraemer's group, starting with the application of ultracentrifugal techniques to industrial problems. During his long career at DuPont, Nichols was involved in the evolution of new instruments and polymer characterization. The interview concludes with Nichols recalling colleagues, DuPont management and organization, as well as his professional society activities.
|1924||University of Wisconsin, Madison||MS||Chemistry|
|1927||University of Wisconsin, Madison||PhD||Physical Chemistry|
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
Table of Contents
Early death of father, family background. Growing up in Danbury, Connecticut, influence of school superintendent. World War I.
Cornell faculty. Senior project with Bancroft. Curriculum.
Wisconsin and Svedberg visit. Start of centrifuge development, particle size of pigments. Marraige and move to Uppsala. Life in Sweden. Svedberg and the ultracentrifuge, completion of doctoral dissertation.
Kraemer and appointment at DuPont. Colleagues. Pigment characterization.
Polymer development and Hale Charch. Characterization by osmonetry, viscosity and light scattering. Instrument design and development, physics group and colleagues. Experimental Station in the thirties and forties, academic consultants. DuPont family. Professional society activities, Gordon conferences. Further recollections of DuPont organization and fellow workers.
About the Interviewer
Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (BS, MS) and Harvard University (PhD). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.