Structural Chemistry

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 1505–1516 | Cite as

The story of gas-phase electron diffraction (GED) in Norway

  • Kari KvesethEmail author
Original Research


This commentary is addressing gas electron diffraction in Norway from the late 1930s up to 2017. The account is about the people involved, the methods developed, and the chemical questions addressed. The development was based on three strong characteristics: Academic excellence, a holistic strategy, and a comprehensive international cooperation and publication. Two strong personalities—Odd Hassel and Otto Bastiansen—established the fundament; their contributions were pivotal. Their ability to obtain funding, to recruit highly qualified co-workers, and their international network were central to the development. The investments in structure chemistry and electron diffraction were exceptionally visionary and daring. The story is rather unique. It is about how a small university at Europe’s periphery in the late 1930s was able to establish a world-leading research group.


Gas electron diffraction Structural chemistry Conformation analysis Odd Hassel Otto Bastiansen 



In writing this article, I have received invaluable information as well as constructive comments and additions from emeriti professors Edgeir Benum, Kolbjørn Hagen, Arne Haaland, Svein Samdal, and Hans Martin Seip. My sincere thanks go to them all for their contributions. My sincere thanks also go to Editor in Chief Istvan Hargittai for his thorough comments, suggestions and corrections, and to Professor Claus J. Nielsen for his thorough suggestions and corrections of the language used in the article. All photos in this article are from the Museum for the history of the university and science: the photo base, at UiO, (MUV) My thanks go in particular to Anne Vaalund (MUV) for collecting important pictures bringing life to the story. All scientific figures and pictures are from the Norwegian GED lab’s archives. In particular, I will express my sincere gratitude to the Department of Chemistry, UiO, for engaging me in organizing a variety of activities related to the story of electron diffraction.

Funding information

This study received financial support from the Department of Chemistry, UiO.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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