Biography of Rudolf Brdicka

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Rudolf Brdicka was a pupil of J. HeyrovskY. He was a physical chemist, mostly engaged in biomedical applications of polarography. Rudolf Brdicka was born in 1906. Brdicka received his Ph.D. in 1929 in CharlesUniversity, Prague, under supervision of Prof. J. HeyrovskY.

He was probably the most famous pupil of J. HeyrovskY. Rudolf Brdicka was a physical chemist, mostly engaged in biomedical applications of polarography. Brdicka carried out polarographic investigations of proteins, hemes, and serum colloids; developed polarographic method for the detection and diagnosis of cancer; discovered how to measure reaction rates by polarography using the limiting current method; studied reactions of iron complexes with peroxide, reaction offormaldehyde with water, and reactions of hydrogen and weak acids at electrode surfaces.

Rudolf Brdicka (left) and J. HeyrovskY (right)

In 1955 Rudolf Brdicka participated in the organization of the Institute ofPhysical Chemistry by expanding the Laboratory of Physical Chemistryfounded in 1953 within the framework of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. He was the first director of the Institute. As most of the founding members of the Laboratory and of the Institute were awarded their degrees for research work in polarography, polarographic topics persisted for some time in their work, particularly the problems of the exact solution of mass transport to the dropping mercury electrode combined with chemical volume reactions accompanying the electron transfer process.

Professors (from left) R. Brdicka and V. Laufberger congratulating J. HeyrovskY at the occasion of the announcement of the awarding ofNobel Prize

However, the research program of the Institute gradually shifted to other disciplines such as mass spectrometry, dynamics of elementary collisions of ions and excited atoms with molecules, theory of thechemical bond, quantum chemistry, adsorption and heterogeneous catalysis, polymer science and organometallic chemistry, aerosol science, thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical reactions, molecular spectroscopy, and electron spectroscopy. Nevertheless, scientific contacts with “the father of polarography”, Prof. HeyrovskY were never interrupted.

A difficult situation occurred after the invasion of the country by Warsaw Pact armies in 1968, when a number of members of the Institute including several leading personalities emigrated to the West. After a transition period following the untimely death of Professor Brdicka in 1970, the Institute was amalgamated in 1972 with the Institute of Polarography under the name J. HeyrovskY Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry.

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