German scientist Benjamin List and British scientist David WC MacMillan were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry on Wednesday for developing “asymmetric organocatalysis” – a tool to build molecules.
“This has had a great impact on pharmaceutical research, and has made chemistry greener,” the award-giving committee said in a release. The two scientists will receive gold medals and split the prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (about Rs 8.5 crore).
The release said that catalysts, substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions, are essential for many reserach areas and industrial uses. Before the development of asymmetric organocatalysis by List and MacMillan, researchers believed that there were just two type of catalysts metals and enzymes.
However, in 2000, the two scientists, independent of each other, developed asymmetric organocatalysis, through which catalysts could be formed by building upon small organic molecules, the Nobel Committee said.
“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,” Johan Åqvist, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry said.
On Monday, American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were given the Nobel Prize for medicine for their discovery of receptors that allow humans to feel temperature and touch.
On Tuesday, scientists Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi received the Nobel Prize for physics for their contribution to complex systems to study climate science.