Derek Lohmann obtained his first degree (BSc Honours Chemistry) at London University and then spent 2 years carrying out National Service. On returning to civilian life, he got back to life in chemistry and his specific interest in Inorganic Chemistry firstly in the bulk extraction of Zinc and Cadmium and then in the high purification of metals and metalloids for the then embryonic semi-conductor and electronics industry. It was at this stage that he developed a wide variety of experimental techniques and also developed an interest in structural Inorganic Chemistry. Seeking to extend this interest further, he applied for and was successful in obtaining a Fellowship to Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, where he studied the kinetics of free-radical reactions and obtained his MSc. Queens did not have an Inorganic Department and seeking to return to Inorganic Chemistry he applied to the University of British Columbia and was awarded a Cominco Fellowship. At UBC, he became Neil Bartlett’s first PhD student and worked on the Fluorides of the Platinum. It was there that his earlier work on metal purification and in particular vacuum technology and glove-box working became particularly useful. The outcome was to complete his PhD on the Fluorides of Platinum with a particular interest in Dioxygenyl Hexafluoroplatinate (V), O2+ [PtF6] – . Neil Bartlett, recognizing the super oxidizing properties of PtF6 and the similarity of the Ionization Potentials of Oxygen and Radon and Xenon used this as a stepping stone for his famous experiment in the preparation and classification of Xenon Hexafluoroplatinate (V), Xe+[PtF6]– . This in turn proved to be the forerunner of a whole new branch of Chemistry.
Having completed his PhD, Derek left UBC and took up a Lectureship in Inorganic Chemistry at University College in Dublin. He spent 2 years there and established the practical side of Inorganic Chemistry. He spent a further 2 years at the Tin Research Institute working on the structures of a variety of Organo Tin compounds
From there he moved to what was variously called The Radiochemical Centre, Amersham International and what is now GE Healthcare. There, he held a number of different posts but spent most of his time – adding another dimension to his chemistry – leading a team developing radiopharmaceuticals for use in diagnostic and therapeutic Nuclear Medicine. At the same time, disposal of radioactive waste was becoming an issue and techniques were found to minimize the waste produced.
With the closure of the UK radionuclide reactors the emphasis was changed and at this stage, Derek applied much of his development work on waste handling from the radioactive to non-radioactive applications and has acted in an advisory capacity both in the UK and overseas.
Currently, Derek’s main chemical involvement is with the Royal Society of Chemistry where he sat on Council for a number of years, now sits on a number of Committees and is active with the group producing advisory Notes both for chemical professionals and more widely to present the positive side of chemistry to the general public.