NEW DELHI: The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was on Wednesday awarded to German scientist Benjamin List and Scotland-born scientist David WC MacMillan “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis.”
“The 2021 chemistry laureates Benjamin List and David MacMillan have developed a new and ingenious tool for molecule building: organocatalysis. Its uses include research into new pharmaceuticals and it has also helped make chemistry greener,” the Nobel Committee said.
Researchers long believed that there were just two types of catalysts available: metals and enzymes.
Independently of each other, laureates Benjamin List and David MacMillan developed a third type – asymmetric organocatalysis – which builds upon small organic molecules.
Benjamin List – awarded the #NobelPrize in Chemistry – wondered whether an entire enzyme was really required to obt… https://t.co/n4rGqKqO6C
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) 1633513931000
2021 #NobelPrize laureate David MacMillan worked with metal catalysts that were easily destroyed by moisture. He wo… https://t.co/pTTnn4EMam
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) 1633513948000
Organocatalysis has developed at an astounding speed.
Using these reactions, researchers can now more efficiently construct anything from new pharmaceuticals to molecules that can capture light in solar cells.
Last year, the honour went to Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer Doudna, for developing the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 — DNA snipping “scissors”.
The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.14 million). The prize money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.
The Nobel season continues with the two most closely watched prizes, literature on Thursday and peace on Friday. The winner of the economics prize will be announced on Monday.
The medicine prize kicked off the 2021 Nobel season on Monday, going to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for breakthroughs that paved the way for the treatment of chronic pain.
The physics prize followed Tuesday, when half was awarded to US-Japanese scientist Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann for climate models, and the other half to Italy’s Giorgio Parisi for work on the theory of disordered materials and random processes.
(With inputs from agencies)