Jean-Marie Lehn is a renowned French scientist who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987 with Charles J. Pedersen and Donald J. Cram “for their creation and usage of compounds with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity.” He created molecules that mimicked the chemical functions that molecules in live beings perform. Lehn earned his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Strasbourg in 1963 and went on to become a Professor of Chemistry at the Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg a few years later. He also became a Professor of Chemistry at the Collège de France in Paris a decade later. Pedersen’s discovery of ‘crown ethers,’ molecules that can bind specific metallic atoms, was bolstered by him. Lehn discovered related molecules known as ‘Cryptands,’ which enabled the creation of chemical compounds through chemical reactions, having a significant impact on biological processes. The molecule may react with acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter in the brain. As a result, he was an early pioneer in the field of supramolecular chemistry,’ and he continues to do so. His team has published over 900 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and he has written three books.
Childhood and Adolescence
Pierre and Marie Lehn gave birth to Jean-Marie Lehn on September 30, 1939, in Rosheim, a small medieval city in Alsace, France. He was the eldest of the family’s four sons.
Pierre Lehn used to work as a baker. He was, nevertheless, a music enthusiast who played the piano and organ. He eventually rose to the position of municipal organist. Marie, on the other hand, managed the store with the help of her eldest son.
He grew up in Rosheim during World War II and then attended a primary school there after the war ended. He enrolled in Collège Freppel high school in Obernai, a tiny village near Rosheim, in 1950. Latin, Greek, English, German, French, Philosophy, and Science, particularly Chemistry, were among the subjects he studied.
He also learned to play the piano and organ at the same time, and music became an essential part of his life. He graduated from high school in July 1957 with a Baccalauréat in Philosophy and a Baccalauréat in Experimental Sciences in September 1957.
He then enrolled at the University of Strasbourg, where he explored majoring in Philosophy. He was undecided, so he began classes with physical, chemical, and natural science courses.
He developed an interest in organic chemistry during the first year, to the point where he built up a tiny laboratory at home and conducted numerous experiments. In his second year, he was inspired by a young professor named Guy Ourisson’s lectures and decided that organic chemistry research was his genuine vocation.
Jean Lehn’s Career
Jean-Marie Lehn joined Ourisson’s laboratory as a member of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in October 1960, after receiving his Licencié-ès-Sciences (Bachelor’s degree). He worked on his Ph.D. research while he was there.
He was in charge of the lab’s first NMR spectrometer at Ourisson’s lab. He studied triterpene’s structural and physicochemical properties. His first scholarly publication, published in 1961, described an additivity rule for substituent-driven shifts of proton NMR signals in steroid derivatives.
He got his Ph.D. from the University of Strasbourg in 1963 and worked as a post-doctoral research fellow in Robert Burns Woodward’s laboratory at Harvard University for a year. He worked on the production of Vitamin B12, among other things.
He also took a Quantum Mechanics course at Woodward’s lab and worked with Roald Hoffmann on his first computations. In 1964, he had the opportunity to see the Woodward-Hoffmann regulations in their early phases.
In 1964, he went to Strasbourg and began research in the field of physical organic chemistry, where he could apply his organic chemistry skills to physical methods and quantum theory.
He was named Maître de Conférences (Assistant Professor) at the University of Strasbourg’s Chemistry Department in 1966. He soon established his own laboratory. He remained in the job until 1969.
NMR studies of conformational rate processes, nitrogen inversion, quadrupolar relaxation, molecular movements and liquid structure, electronic structures, stereoelectronic effects, and other issues were among his key research interests. He went on to investigate the physical properties of molecules, manufacturing substances to meet specific requirements.
He was able to create cage-like molecules in 1968, which had an empty space inside where another molecule might fit. With the use of organic chemistry, he was able to make cages of any desired shape, allowing only a specific type of molecule to fit within. This laid the groundwork for a new branch of chemistry known as sensors.
He developed comparable chemicals termed ‘Cryptands’ by amplifying Pedersen’s ‘crown ethers.’ This sparked the development of ‘Supramolecular Chemistry,’ which looked at intermolecular attractions rather than the bonds within a molecule.
In early 1970, he was elevated to Associate Professor at the University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg, and in October of the same year, he was promoted to Full Professor of Chemistry. He remained in the job until 1979.
Meanwhile, he served as a Visiting Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University in the springs of 1972 and 1974, as well as on a part-time basis until 1980. In 1977, he was also a Visiting Professor of Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, E.T.H. Zürich.
In October 1979, he was elected to the prestigious Collège de France’s chair of ‘Chimie des Interactions Moléculaires.’ Following his retirement in 1980, Alain Horeau became head of the chemistry laboratory at Collège de France and later split his time between the Strasbourg and Paris laboratories.
In 1984, he was the Alexander Todd Visiting Professor of Chemistry at Cambridge University, in 1985, he was the Rolf-Sammet Gastprofessor at Frankfurt University, and in 1985-86, he was the Rolf-Sammet Gastprofessor at Frankfurt University.
He and Donald J. Cram and Charles J. Pedersen shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987 “for their creation and application of compounds having structure-specific interactions of high selectivity.”
In November and December 1989, he was Heinrich-Hertz’s Gastprofessor at Karlsruhe University, in 1997 and again in 2000, he was Robert Burns Woodward’s Visiting Professor at Harvard University, and in 1999-2000, he was Newton Abraham Professor at Lincoln College, Oxford University. In 2005, he worked as an Adjunct Professor at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok.
He has produced over 900 scientific peer-reviewed papers and authored three books during his long and renowned research career, along with his outstanding team.
His Major Projects
Following Charles Pedersen’s discovery of crown ethers, molecules that may bind specific metallic atoms, Jean-Marie Lehn discovered cryptands, or similar compounds, in 1969. The cryptands were able to catch specific sorts of molecules, allowing for the creation of chemical compounds via chemical reactions that had a significant impact on biological processes.
This field of study evolved into supramolecular chemistry,’ which focused on intermolecular interactions rather than intramolecular connections.
Achievements & Awards
Jean-Marie Lehn, Donald J. Cram, and Charles J. Pedersen were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987 “for their creation and application of compounds having structure-specific interactions of high selectivity.”
Personal History and Legacy
Jean-Marie Lehn married Sylvie Lederer in 1965, and the couple had two sons, David (born 1966) and Mathias (born 1969). (born 1969).
In his youth, he studied music, and after science, it became his primary interest.
He has a reputation for being an atheist.
Estimated Net worth
Jean is one of the wealthiest chemists and one of the most well-known chemists. Jean Marie Lehn’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.