Benjamin List, David MacMillan Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021

Benjamin List of Germany and David MacMillan of the United States earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing a precise new tool for molecular assembly, according to the panel.

The team was given a prize “for their development of a precise new tool for molecular construction: organocatalysis. This has had a great impact on pharmaceutical research, and has made chemistry greener” according to the Nobel Committee.

The SEK 10 million (approximately Rs. 8.5 crores) prize will be split between List and MacMillan, both 53.

List is a director at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, whereas MacMillan is a professor at Princeton University in the United States.

“Many research areas and industries are dependent on chemists’ ability to construct molecules that can form elastic and durable materials, store energy in batteries or inhibit the progression of disease” is critical in many scientific areas and sectors, according to the Nobel Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

“This work requires catalysts, which are substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions, without becoming part of the final product,” it continued, noting that scientists previously thought there were only two types of catalysts: metals and enzymes.

Working independently, the researchers created a third sort of “asymmetric organocatalysis” in 2000, which relies on tiny organic molecules.

Analysts predicted that the field would be wide open ahead of this year’s announcement.

According to Clarivate, which keeps track of possible Nobel Honor winners, more than 70 researchers met the criteria to be considered for the chemistry prize, based on thousands of citations in scholarly journals.

Last year, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer Doudna of the United States for creating the gene-editing system known as CRISPR-Cas9 — DNA snipping “scissors.”

The Nobel season begins on Thursday with the much-anticipated prize for literature, followed by the prize for peace on Friday, and the economics prize on Monday, October 11.

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