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W. Carl Lineberger was born in Hamlet, North Carolina. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1965, working with John Hooper and Earl McDaniel in atomic collision physics. In 1968, he began postdoctoral work with Lewis M. Branscomb at JILA in Boulder. Subsequently, he joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado, and is now the E.U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Fellow of JILA.
His work is primarily experimental, using a wide variety of laser based techniques to study structure and reactivity of gas phase ions. These studies have provided many precise thermochemical properties of important ions, radicals and diradicals. Recent studies have been directed toward elucidating the structure of transient reaction intermediates, to developing understanding of the gradual evolution of physical properties from an isolated molecule to a solvated species and to real-time investigations of reaction dynamics including the cage effect in size-selected clusters. Specifically, he has employed ultrafast laser technology to elucidate the role of the solvent in the molecular cage effect in such clusters.
Lineberger has published 250 papers in major scientific journals, and his graduate students and postdoctoral associates hold major research-related positions throughout the world.
He has been awarded the H. P. Broida Prize in Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy and the Earle K. Plyler Prize by the American Physical Society, the Meggers Prize by the Optical Society of America and the Michelson Prize by the Coblentz Society. He has received the Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics and the Peter Debye Prize in Physical Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1983), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1995), a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a member of Sigma Xi and the American Chemical Society.