Nobel Prize in Chemistry: double prize for a tool to build molecules

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Benjamin Liste David WC MacMillan for his work on developing a new tool for molecular construction, called organocatalysis. The announcement of the winners was made this morning (6) by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The jury argued that the technique had a significant impact on pharmaceutical research and made chemistry environmentally friendly. With this, the winners will share the prize of 10 million SEK (which is about R $ 6.1 million).


Last Monday (4), the Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded the prize to the American scientist David Julius and the American of Lebanese and Armenian origin Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of temperature and touch receptors”. While on Tuesday (5), scientists Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their “innovative contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems.”

Tomorrow the Literature Prize will be awarded and the Nobel Peace Prize will only be announced on Friday (8). In addition, the award for Economy will end the season next Monday (11).

Read more:

Meet the winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

  • Benjamin List was born in 1968 in Frankfurt, in Germany. He obtained his doctorate in 1997 from the Goethe University in Frankfurt and is director of the Max-Planck Institute, also in Germany.
  • David WC MacMillan was born in 1968 in Bellshill, UK. He defended his doctorate in 1996 from the University of California, Irvine, in the United States and is a professor at Princeton University, also in the United States.

building molecules

Because most chemical reactions tend to be very slow, it is quite common for scientists to use catalysts, which are substances that increase the speed of a reaction. For several years, they believed that there were only two types of catalysts: metals and enzymes.

But working separately, Benjamin List and David MacMillan developed a third type, asymmetric organocatalysis, which is based on small organic molecules in 2000.

The discovery made these molecules make the reactions faster, more efficient and with even less environmental impact.

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Nobel Prize in Chemistry: double prize for a tool to build molecules

Hank Gilbert