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Fellows Directory

David Buckingham

David Buckingham

Professor David Buckingham CBE FRS


Elected: 1975


Amyand ‘David’ Buckingham was a chemist whose detailed study of optical, electric and magnetic properties of molecules and intermolecular forces has shed light on fundamental physical properties of matter. His career was distinguished by the development of theoretical models and valuable new experimental techniques.

Many of David’s most significant achievements arose from his work on the electric and magnetic properties of molecules. With Ray Disch, he made the first direct measurement of a molecular electric quadrupole moment. His work led to an improved understanding of the medically useful phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance. He also helped to characterise optically active materials and the differing ways in which they scatter left and right circularly polarised light.

Appointed Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge in 1969, David was a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Corresponding Member of the Australian Academy of Science. In 2007, he was the inaugural recipient of the Ahmed Zewail Prize in Molecular Sciences, recognising his pioneering contributions.

Professor David Buckingham CBE FRS died on 4 February 2021.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, theoretical
  • Astronomy and physics
    • Magnetism


Chirality, Intermolecular forces, Optical, electric and magnetic properties


  • Hughes Medal

    For his contributions to chemical physics, in particular to long-range intermolecular forces, non-linear optics, problems related to the polarizability of the helium atom, the interpretation of NMR spectra, and the applications of ab initio computations.

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