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Sten Samson (1916-2001)

Sten Samson passed away on November, 17 2001, after a short illness. He was 85 years old. Sten received his Fil. kand. degree at the U. of Stockholm in 1953 and came to the California Inst. of Technology to work with Linus Pauling on the structures of intermetallic compounds. He returned to Stockholm in 1956 and obtained his Fil. lic. Degree in 1957; he then returned to Caltech for the remainder of his career. He was granted a Fil. dr. degree from the U. of Stockholm in 1968.

Sten was widely known because of his ability to understand the structural principles governing very complicated intermetallic compounds, and his knack for designing and constructing innovative x-ray diffraction equipment. Several commercial models of serial diffractometers included Stens design features, particularly helium cryostat versions capable of operating below 20 K which are in operation today. In the field of intermetallic compounds, his insight into coordination polyhedra and the ways in which they might pack together led to his discoveries of the structures of such compounds as 'NaCd2', which has approximately 1200 atoms in the cubic unit cell. He was working on a further refinement of this structure (which is extensively disordered) until a short time before his death.

Sten is survived by a son, Karl, living in Stockholm, and a daughter Karin Lamar and two grandchildren, living in Colorado, USA.

Dick Marsh
25 June 2009