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American Chemical Society

Division of the History of Chemistry

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Citation for Chemical Breakthrough Awards

In 2006, the Division of the History of Chemistry (HIST) of the American Chemical Society announced the first recipients of the then new Citation for Chemical Breakthrough award program. This award, which recognizes breakthrough publications, books and patents worldwide in the fields of science embraced by the ACS, are presented to the institutions at which the work was performed. One book, three patents and six scientific publications were honored in 2006, the earliest being Moses Gomberg's 1900 classic paper on free radicals.

The term "breakthrough" refers to advances that have been revolutionary in concept, broad in scope, and long-term in impact. Plaques, to be placed in the hallways outside the office or laboratory where the breakthroughs were achieved, will be presented to the departments and institutions at which these breakthroughs occurred. Jeffrey I. Seeman, then Chair of HIST and creator of the award, in 2006 said that the award is intended to “celebrate great scientific accomplishments and motivate, through shared pride of achievement. We hope that all who walk by and see the plaques will say, 'Wow! That was done here!' ”

The National Historical Chemical Landmarks (NHCL) program, administered by the American Chemical Society, honors "seminal achievements . . . to chemistry and society in the U.S." In 2015, four Landmarks were awarded:
  • Edwin Land and Instant Photography
  • Isolation of Phytochrome
  • The Keeling Curve: Studies of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide at Mauna Loa
  • Kelly Pneumatic Iron Process
The first NHCL Landmark was awarded in 1993 for Bakelite: The World's First Synthetic Plastic.