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Portrait of Jacobus van't Hoff (1852-1911), Dutch physical chemist and Nobel Laureate. Just before completing his doctorate at Utrecht, he published a paper on the structure of the carbon atom. In this he showed that the four bonds of carbon were not arranged in a two-dimensional plane (pointing toward the corners of a square), but were three- dimensional (pointing toward the corners of a tetrahedron). This allowed the existence of asymmetrical compounds, and these were soon discovered to rotate polarised light passed through them. He later went on to study solutions, this work resulting in his being awarded the first ever Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1901.
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