Karl Christe


20 September, 2017


Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute and Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089 Phone: 213-740 3552 Fax: 213-740 6679 Email:


1957    B. Sc., Technical University of Stuttgart, Germany 
1958    University of Vienna, Austria 
1960    M. Sc., Technical University of Stuttgart, Germany 
1961    Ph. D., Technical University of Stuttgart, Germany


1994-       University of Southern California, Research Professor

1994-2005 ERC, Raytheon, and Hughes STX, Senior Staff Advisor, at Edwards Air Force Base, Edwards, CA 1967-1994 Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell International, Canoga Park, CA, Group Leader, Exploratory Chemistry 1962-1967 Stauffer Chemical, Richmond, CA, Senior Research Chemist 1960-1961 Farbwerke Hoechst, Frankfurt, Germany, Ph. D. Fellow 1958-1960 Technical University of Stuttgart, Germany, Teaching Assistant


2017 Honorary Professorship, Nanjing University of Science & Technology, China 2016 Camille and Henry Dreyfus Lecture, Dartmouth College 2015 National ACS Award in Iodine Chemistry 2012 Richard C. Tolman Award, ACS So Cal Division 2010 Frohn Lecture, Duisburg, Germany, GDCH
2010 Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (Salzburg) 2009 Inaugural Neil Bartlett Memorial Lecture, UC Berkeley 2009 Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences (Liege) 2007 Appointed to the Presidential Commission of the GDCH 2006 Alfred Stock Prize, German Chemical Society 2004 Science Advisory Board, DoD 2004 HEDM/NANO Award, DARPA 2003 Samuel McElvain Lecture, University of, Madison 2003 National ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry 2002 Coates Lecture, University of Wyoming, Laramee 2001 Josef Goubeau, 100th Birthday Memorial Lecture, U. Stuttgart, GDCH 2000 Prix Moissan 1997 Star Team Award, Air Force 1986 National ACS Award in Fluorine Chemistry 1969 Apollo Achievement Award, NASA


391 publications (H index 43) in refereed journals and 65 patents


Dr. Christe has 55 years of experience in the synthesis of novel high energy oxidizers, explosives and rocket propellants and has managed and scientifically directed many government funded research contracts. He has achieved the first syntheses of many spectacular compounds, such as ClF3O, ClF3O2, halogen perchlorates, OIF4OF, OsF4O2, and ions, such as NF4+, ClF6+, ClF6-, ClO2F2-, ClO2F2+, ClF2O+, ClF4O-, NF3+, NF2O+, N7O+, and NH2F2+. He has invented solid propellant fluorine and hydrogen gas generators for chemical laser weapon systems and has discovered the first purely chemical synthesis of elemental fluorine. He has developed a synthesis for anhydrous tetramethylammonium fluoride and has pioneered the use of this compound as a source of “naked” fluoride ions, which has led to a renaissance of high coordination number chemistry. Among the novel compounds, which he prepared in this manner, are the XeF5- and IF52- anions, which are the first known examples of pentagonal planar AX5 species. His most recent breakthrough discovery in fluorine chemistry is based on the realization that strong Lewis acids can enhance the oxidizing power of fluorine by 6.7 eV, making it the strongest known neutral one-electron oxidizer. His seminal work in fluorine chemistry has received world-wide recognition, resulting in Wikipedia referring to him as the “Fluorine God.” In addition to his impressive achievements in fluorine chemistry, he also has made important contributions to numerous other fields of chemistry. For example, he has prepared the first stable oxonium, OH3+, and sulfonium, SH3+, salts, has discovered a new process for metal joining using hydrazine as a gaseous flux, has developed new methods for the introduction of fluorine into aromatic rings, and has pioneered graphite based ion exchange resins for the use with powerful oxidizers in anhydrous HF solutions. In addition, he has made major discoveries in the field of the chemistry of fluorocarbons, inorganic high polymers, chemical laser technology, and methane oxychlorination. More recently, he has focused his efforts on polynitrogen chemistry and has discovered the N5+, N3NFO+, N7O+, and cyclo-N5- ions, nitrylcyanide, and many new polyazides and polycyanides. His latest research interests are in the areas of high oxygen carriers and green replacements for ammonium perchlorate, liquid monopropellants and explosives. He has made extensive use of computational chemistry and, together with Dave Dixon, he has also invented the first quantitative scales for oxidizer strength and Lewis acidity. The latter compliments the pH scale and will become equally important in chemistry.


Dr. Christe has worked as a consultant for numerous firms including Chrysler, Science and Technology

Research Fields

Energetic Materials

Editorial Board Memberships

Karl is not currently contributing as an editor for any journal or publisher.

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