The International Centre for Diffraction Data

Volume 8 Issue 5

Honoring a Centenarian, Dr. Ludo Frevel

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Ludo Frevel
Dr. Ludo Frevel

Dr. Ludo Frevel recently celebrated his 100th birthday! Born on May 31, 1910, in Frankfurt, Germany, he moved to Baltimore, Maryland as a teen. Ludo earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from Johns Hopkins University, followed by two years of study at the California Institute of Technology with structural chemist and Nobel laureate, Linus Pauling. He joined Dow’s Spectroscopy Laboratory in 1936, where he worked as one of Dow’s pioneer chemists for 39 years. Until 2005, he served as a consultant to Dow Corning Corporation. He holds 60 patents and authored or co-authored 446 technical papers, publishing his most recent paper at age 95.

Ludo’s work in X-ray powder diffraction and catalysis, particularly in the petrochemical industry, is known worldwide. He is also recognized for his method of purifying ethylene to make polyethylene. However, the accomplishment he is most proud of is his work on the purification of butadiene for synthetic rubber.

Ludo’s association with the ICDD spans many decades. His pioneering work began with his vital contributions to the 1938 Hanawalt, Rinn and Frevel paper entitled, Chemical Analysis by X-ray Diffraction - Classification and Use of X-ray Diffraction Patterns, published in the Analytical Edition of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. This work, which supplied tabulated diffraction data for 1,000 chemical substances, is considered by most diffractionists to be the classic work in qualitative identification of multiphase polycrystalline materials. This work directly lead to the creation of the Powder Diffraction File™, and the tabulated data were the genesis of Set 1, published in 1941.

As an active member, Ludo has served the ICDD in many capacities. He directly contributed to the Powder Diffraction File™ during the mid 1960s and early 1970s. He published one of the first papers on the use of computers in both the searching and matching steps of crystalline phase identification. From 1978 through 1996, he assumed various leadership roles by serving as a member of the Board of Directors; as such, he performed the duties of Member-at-Large, Consultant to the Board, Chairman, and Past Chairman. 

Over the years, Ludo has been honored for his contributions to the X-ray analysis field as well as those to the ICDD. The ICDD established the J.D. Hanawalt Award for excellence in powder diffraction in the early 1980s; Ludo was named as the first recipient - a title well deserved! For his long and meritorious service to the ICDD, Ludo was designated as an ICDD Distinguished Fellow in 1984.

Ludo’s commitment to the education of young scientists was exemplified in his establishment of the Crystallography Scholarship Program. To encourage promising graduate students to pursue crystallographically-oriented research, he founded the Crystallography Scholarship Program in 1991. Administered by the ICDD, the program’s name was changed in 2000 to honor Ludo as its founder. In addition, Ludo has contributed significantly to the scholarship fund and has actively solicited funding from private and academic sectors to sustain the program. As of January 2010, the Ludo Frevel Crystallography Scholarship Program has awarded 109 scholarships totaling nearly $250,000.

In celebration of this significant milestone, The Dow Chemical Company recently honored Ludo by presenting him with a Dow-Diamond blanket and a letter from Dow Chairman and CEO, Andrew Liveris. ICDD shares in celebrating this occasion and expresses its very best wishes and gratitude to a leader who has significantly contributed to the success that we experience today, serving the scientific community as the world’s center for quality diffraction data.

ICDD wishes to thank The Dow Chemical Company for contributing to the content of this newsletter. Photo courtesy of Ludo’s son, Kurt Frevel.


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