The Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to two scientists who have developed a new method for manufacturing molecules that can be used in many everyday applications, from creating new drugs or flooding flavorings to converting light into solar cells. until capture.
German-born Benjamin List and Briton David Macmillan were announced as the winners of the coveted honour, and will share the prize money of 10 million krone (£842,611).
Described as “simple” and “simple” by the Nobel committee, the scientists created a technique for manufacturing chemical molecules called asymmetric organocatalysis.
Making molecules—which requires linking individual atoms together in specific arrangements—is a difficult and slow task. By the turn of the millennium, chemists were able to use only certain metals and complex enzymes as catalysts to speed up the process.
That all changed in 2000, when Professor Macmillan and Professor List independently reported that small organic molecules could be used to perform similar functions.
The judges said the new generation of catalysts were both more environmentally friendly and cheaper to produce and have been the key to creating new substances such as pharmaceuticals, plastics, perfumes and flavourings.
“Biological catalysts can be used to drive many chemical reactions,” said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded the Nobel Prize.
“Using these reactions, researchers can now more efficiently create anything from new pharmaceuticals to molecules that can capture light in solar cells.”
Nobel panel member Pernilla Witung-Staffshed said the technology developed by both scientists is “already of great benefit to mankind” and “is widely used today”.
Since their discovery, the device has been further refined, making it many times more efficient, Prof List said, adding that the “real revolution” was only just beginning.
Peter Somfai, another member of the Nobel Committee, emphasized the importance of discovery to the world economy.
“It is estimated that catalysis is responsible for about 35 percent of the world’s GDP, which is a very impressive figure,” he said. “If we have a more environmentally friendly option, hopefully it will make a difference.”
On Monday, the Nobel committee awarded the Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Americans David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries about how the human body perceives temperature and touch.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /