George (György) Andrew Olah (Oláh), Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1994 MP

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Birthdate: (86)
Birthplace: Budapest, Magyarország
Occupation: Professor of organic chemistry, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1994
Managed by: Yigal Burstein / יגאל בורשטיין
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About George (György) Andrew Olah (Oláh), Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1994

George Andrew Olah (born May 22, 1927 in Budapest, as Oláh György) is a Hungarian-born American organic chemist. Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1994, "for his contribution to carbocation chemistry".


Olah was born in Budapest, Hungary, on May 22, 1927. After the high school of Budapesti Piarista Gimnazium (Scolopi fathers), he studied, then taught, at what is now Budapest University of Technology and Economics. As a result of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, he and his family moved briefly to England and then to Canada, where he joined Dow Chemical in Sarnia, Ontario, with another Hungarian chemist, Stephen J. Kuhn. Olah's pioneering work on carbocations started during his eight years with Dow. In 1965 he returned to academia at Case Western Reserve University and then to the University of Southern California in 1977. In 1971, Olah became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Olah is currently a distinguished professor at the University of Southern California and the director of the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. In 2005, Olah wrote an essay promoting the methanol economy.

The Olah family formed an endowment fund (the George A. Olah Endowment) which grants annual awards to outstanding chemists. The awards are selected and administered by the American Chemical Society.


The search for stable carbocations led to the discovery of protonated methane which was stabilized by superacids, like FSO3H-SbF5 ("Magic Acid").

   CH4 + H+ → CH5+

Olah was also involved in a career-long battle with Herbert C. Brown of Purdue over the existence of so-called "nonclassical" carbocations – such as the norbornyl cation, which can be depicted as cationic character delocalized over several bonds.

In recent years, his research has shifted from hydrocarbons and their transformation into fuel to the methanol economy. He has joined with Robert Zubrin, Anne Korin, and James Woolsey in promoting a flexible-fuel mandate initiative.


George A. Olah, 1994 Nobel Laureate Chemistry, University of Southern California

George A. Olah was born 1927 in Budapest Hungary. He obtained his education including his Ph.D. from the Technical University of Budapest. In 1956, Olah left Hungary and moved to Canada and then to the US. From 1957 until 1964 he worked for the Dow Chemical Company. Returning to academic life he was on the faculty of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is since 1977 Distinguished Professor and Director of the Loker Hydrocarbon Institute at the University of Southern California. He and his coworkers carried out research on hydrocarbon chemistry and discovered fundamental aspects of carbocations and superacids. For his discoveries, he was awarded the unshared 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He has published more than 1400 scientific papers and authored or edited some 20 books. He holds more than 120 patents. His current research interests are in new hydrocarbon chemistry and energy areas covering chemical carbon dioxide recycling and the derived “methanol economy”. He has received many awards and recognitions, including 12 honorary degrees from various universities and were elected a member (or foreign member) of some 20 National Academies and Scientific Societies.

See also: George A. Olah publication


George (György) Olah (Oláh), Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1994's Timeline

May 22, 1927
Budapest, Magyarország
Age 21
Budapest, Hungary