In March 1908, the BASF at Ludwigshafen provided financial support to Fritz Haber in his attempt to synthesize ammonia from the elements. The process that now famously bears his name was demonstrated to BASF in July 1909. However, its engineer was Haber's private assistant, Robert Le Rossignol, a young British chemist from the Channel Islands with whom Haber made a generous financial arrangement regarding subsequent royalties. Le Rossignol left Haber in August 1909 as BASF began the industrialization of their process, taking a consultancy at the Osram works in Berlin. He was interned briefly during World War I before being released to resume his occupation. His position eventually led to His Majesty's Government formulating a national policy regarding released British internees in Germany. After the war Le Rossignol spent his professional life at the GEC laboratories in the UK, first making fundamental contributions to the development of high-power radio transmitting valves, then later developing smaller valves used as mobile power sources in the airborne radars of World War II. Through his share of Haber's royalties, Le Rossignol became wealthy. In retirement, he and his wife gave their money away to charitable causes.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society.