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Per-Olov Löwdin Edit Profile

educator , chemistry and physics researcher

Per-Olov Löwdin, Swedish chemistry and physics researcher, educator. Recipient Björken award Uppsala University, 1973, St. Olaf's medal, 1975, Gold medal NOR, 1975, Swedish-American Bicentennial Gold medal, 1979, Lavoisier medal in gold, 1981, Ultrastructure award, 1985, Niels Bohr medal, 1987, Heyrovsky medal in gold, 1990, Oscar Carlson medal in gold, Swedish Chemical Society, 1993.


Löwdin, Per-Olov was born on October 28, 1916 in Uppsala, Sweden. Son of Erik Wilhelm and Eva (Ostgren) Löwdin.


Filosofie Licentiat, Uppsala University, 1942. Filosofie Doktor, Uppsala University, 1948.


A former graduate student under Ivar Waller, Löwdin formulated in 1950 the symmetric orthogonalization scheme for molecular orbital calculations. This scheme is the basis of the zero-differential overlap (ZDO) approximation used in semiempirical theories. He is also credited with the use of fat symbols for matrices, making easy the derivation of several theorems of quantum mechanics.

The famous 'Löwdin's pairing theorem' used in ROHF, UHF and RES-GVB theories is not his. According to himself, George G. Hall and King made the formal proposition after an informal suggestion by Löwdin. His partitioning technique for quantum chemistry problems is best appreciated through the series of 14 papers on perturbation theory published between 1963 and 1971.

He was also a very active teacher, starting the Summer Schools of Quantum Chemistry at Uppsala around 1958. In 1959 and 1960, Löwdin started the Quantum Theory Project at the University of Florida as a sister project to the Uppsala Quantum Chemistry Group. In 1964 he was joined by John C. Slater from MIT. The International Winter Institutes (held initially at Sanibel Island, and later at Gainesville) provided the initiation of hundreds of Latin American young scientists during the eighties and nineties.

In 1960 he founded the Sanibel Symposium in conjunction with the Winter Institute. They have been held every year since 1960.


  • Löwdin was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1969 and was a member of the committee for the Nobel Prize in Physics from 1972 to 1984. He was the founder of the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry and of the series Advances in Quantum Chemistry.


Fellow American Physical Society. Member American Chemical Society, American Philosophical Society, Royal Academy Arts and Sciences, Royal Society Sciences in Uppsala, Norwegian Academy of Sciences, Swedish Academy of Sciences, Finish National Academy of Sciences, Danish National Academy of Sciences, Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology.


Married Karin Wilhelmina Hö+338k, February 7, 1960. Children: Per Erik Assar, Anna Karin Charlotta.

Erik Wilhelm Löwdin

Eva (Ostgren) Löwdin

Karin Wilhelmina Höök

Anna Karin Charlotta Löwdin

Per Erik Assar Löwdin