Richard P. Buck - 2001 Reilley Award


 
After an illustrious industrial and academic career that spanned nearly 50 years, Professor Richard P. Buck recently retired from the faculty at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  A native of Los Angeles, Dick Buck stayed close to home to receive his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1950 and 1951, respectively. He then traveled east and earned his Ph.D. in 1954 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked with David N. Hume.  Following his graduate work, Buck carried out fundamental research on fuel cells and other electrochemical systems at the California Research Corporation. He later moved to Bell & Howell, and then Beckmann Instruments. His experiences at Beckmann in the early days of electrochemical sensors and membrane electrodes helped pave the way for him to become the preeminent academic researcher in this field once he joined the faculty at Chapel Hill in 1967. 
   Buck made enormous contributions to the fields of electroanalytical chemistry and fundamental electrochemistry during his many years as an active researcher. Indeed he is the author/coauthor on more than 240 original research papers, dating back to his earliest work on the first constant-current dual intermediate titrimetric scheme that was published in Analytical Chemistry in1952. In the ‘60s and ‘70s he focused his efforts on the theory of interfacial potential development and selectivity of solid-state and glass membrane electrodes, including very tedious calculations of the potential profiles that exist at electrode/membrane interfaces (using numerical solutions of the Nernst-Planck-Poisson equation). He was one of the very first to apply impedance methods to delineate the charge-transfer kinetics at the interfaces and within the bulk of membrane electrodes, including the development of improved instrumentation to carry out such impedance measurements. As newer organic liquid- and polymer-membrane-based ion-selective electrodes began to emerge in the 1970s, Buck turned his attention to understanding the ion permselectivity of such membranes, including an in-depth effort to define the role of endogenous and exogenous lipophilic counterion sites in preventing interfacial Donnan failure at higher concentrations of analyte ions.He later went on to pioneer the development of novel microfabricated ion and biosensor arrays based on flexible Kapton substrates, and further demonstrated that such devices can be implanted within living heart muscle to provide the first real time measurements of key ions (H+, K+, etc.) and metabolites (e.g., lactate) in such tissue. 
  Dick Buck’s research contributions go beyond the classical electrochemistry boundaries.Indeed, several of his early academic papers dealt with spark sources for mass spectrometry, spectral deconvolution methods, Raman spectroscopy of adsorbates on electrode surfaces, etc.As one nominating letter writer put it, “these (other) contributions clearly illustrate the great breadth of his knowledge and interests … and the high scholarly quality of his work (electroanalytical and other) over an extended time period makes him especially worthy of receiving SEAC’s highest honor.”