Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021: The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been jointly awarded to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan.
- The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
- They have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry ‘for their development of a precise new tool for molecular construction: organocatalysis’.
- List and MacMillan share the 10-million Swedish crown ($1.14 million) prize for their separate work on asymmetric organocatalysis.
- This precise new tool for molecular construction had a great impact on pharmaceutical research and has made chemistry greener.
- Catalysts are fundamental tools for chemists.
Note: Catalysts are the molecules that remain stable while also enabling or speeding up the chemical reactions that are performed in labs or large industrial sectors.
- The researchers, for the longest time believed that there are just two types of catalysts, metals and enzymes.
- But, List and MacMillan separately developed a third type of catalysis.
- It is called asymmetric organocatalysis and builds upon smaller organic molecules.
- Johan Åqvist, who is chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, said in a statement, ‘This concept for catalysis is as simple as it is ingenious, and the fact is that many people have wondered why we didn’t think of it earlier.’
What are organocatalysts?
- According to the explanation of the academy, the organic catalysts have a stable framework of carbon atoms that allows more active chemical groups to attach.
- These mostly contain common elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur or phosphorus meaning that these catalysts are both environmentally friendly and can be produced at low cost.
- As per the Nobel Prize academy, the rapid expansion in the usage of organic catalysts is primarily due to their ability to drive asymmetric catalysis.
About the awardees:
- List, 53, is a chemist and the director of the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. He has been honored by the ACS with both the 2022 Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in 2014.
- Scottish-born David MacMillan, also 53, is a professor of cat Princeton University in the US, where he was also the chair of the department of chemistry from 2010 to 2015. He won the Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis in 2018, the ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry in 2011, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in 2007, and the Elias J. Corey Award for Outstanding Original Contribution in Organic Synthesis by a Young Investigator in 2005.
About Nobel Prize in Chemistry:
- Chemistry was the most important science for Alfred Nobel’s own work. The development of his inventions as well as the industrial processes he employed were based upon chemical knowledge.
- Chemistry was the second prize area that Nobel mentioned in his will.
- Previous winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry include Marie Curie and Fredrick Sanger, who won the prestigious award twice.
- Till now, seven women have won Nobel Prize in Chemistry, including 2020’s laureates Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier was awarded jointly for the development of a method for genome editing.