ICDD Awards - Distinguished Fellowship Award 1982

J. D. Hanawalt (1902-1987)

Dr. Hanawalt received his BA from Oberlin College in 1924, his Masters in 1926 from the University of Wisconsin, and his PhD in physics, from the University of Michigan in 1929. He was a National Research Council Fellow for the Rockefeller Foundation from 1929 – 1931. Then, in 1931, he was an International Research Fellow at the University of Groninger, in the Netherlands.

After completing his education, Dr. Hanawalt began working for The Dow Chemical Company, as a physicist, in 1931. During his 33 years at The Dow Chemical Company, Dr. Hanawalt worked as Director of the Spectroscopy Lab, Director of Metallurgical Research, and headed the Magnesium Department. In addition, Dr. Hanawalt became a corporate Vice President for Dow in 1953. While working at Dow, Dr. Hanawalt distinguished himself among the scientific community with the development of a diffraction pattern classification system, which simplifies the identification of unknown crystalline substances by examination of their major X-ray diffraction lines. This later became known as the Hanawalt System and was based on the Hanawalt Index. The Hanawalt Index, which was first published by the ICDD in 1941, is still published and used today in a variety of print and electronic formats.

Dr. Hanawalt also played a large role in the development and use of magnesium. After World War II, Dr. Hanawalt led a team to Germany to study magnesium technology, industrialization and military application for the US government. Afterwards, he assisted in the creation of Dow’s developmental program, and as a result, Dow became the world leader in commercial magnesium production for several decades. Upon retirement from Dow, Dr. Hanawalt took the position of Professor of Metallurgy for the College of Engineering, at the University of Michigan. He continued to teach and work in the field of magnesium technology until his second retirement in 1972.

Dr. Hanawalt was one of the founders and a chairman of the Joint Committee on Powder Diffraction Standards (JCPDS), which later became known as the International Centre for Diffraction Data. But he is perhaps best known for his paper, “Chemical Analysis by X-ray Diffraction,” which laid the ground work for the first ASTM card file, and a method for the analysis of unknowns. The card set, which was issued in 1941, became the Powder Diffraction File (PDF) as we know it today.

Over the course of his life, Dr. Hanawalt held 30 patents and was recognized for his many accomplishments and contributions to the X-ray community. He received The Directors’ Award from the Magnesium Association, the Mathewson Gold Medal of the Institute of Metals, the gold medals of the American Society of Metals, and the American Society for Testing and Materials. Dr. Hanawalt was named a Fellow of the American Society of Metals, and a Distinguished Fellow of the ICDD.

Read more about the continually growing list of ICDD Distinguished Fellows.