Nobel Prize 2021: Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan awarded Nobel in Chemistry
he 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis.”
New Delhi: The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis.”
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 diseases. This work requires catalysts, which are substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions, without becoming part of the final product, according to the Nobel committe press release.
For example, catalysts in cars transform toxic substances in exhaust fumes to harmless molecules. Our bodies also contain thousands of catalysts in the form of enzymes, which chisel out the molecules necessary for life.
Catalysts are thus fundamental tools for chemists, but researchers long believed that there were, in principle, just two types of catalysts available: metals and enzymes. Benjamin List and David MacMillan are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 because in 2000 they, independent of each other, developed a third type of catalysis. It is called asymmetric organocatalysis and builds upon small organic molecules.
“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,” says Johan Åqvist, who is chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.