Winner of the Nobel Prize
along with John Pople
in 1998 for his work on quantum mechanical modelling of molecules using Density-Functional Theory
Born in 1923, Walter Kohn is a retired professor of physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His pioneering work in developing simplifications for modelling molecules at the quantum level have given quantum and computational chemistry an incredible boost. In 1964, he demonstrated that the total energy of a system could be calculated using quantum mechanics based on the density of electrons and their spatial distribution around the molecule. Instead of modelling the motions of individual electrons and all the interactions they face, Kohn developed the idea of modelling based on the average motion of electrons, thereby simplifying the calculations. This method is widely used in quantum-chemical calculations of larger molecules today.