Duo who created tools to build molecules win Nobel Chemistry Prize
German Benjamin List and Scottish-born David MacMillan won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing new tools for building molecules that have helped make new drugs and are more environmentally friendly.
The duo was awarded "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," the Nobel Committee said.
List and MacMillan, both 53, will share the 10-million-kronor ($1.1-million, one-million-euro) prize.
MacMillan is a professor at Princeton University in the US, while List is a director at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.
"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," the Nobel Committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
"This work requires catalysts, which are substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions, without becoming part of the final product," it added, noting that prior to the work of the laureates, scientists believed there were only two types of catalysts, metals and enzymes.
Last year, the Nobel went to Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer Doudna, for developing the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 -- DNA snipping "scissors".
The Nobel season continues on Thursday with the much-anticipated prize for literature and with peace on Friday before the economics prize winds things up on Monday, October 11.
The chemistry award is the third of this year's crop of Nobel prizes and follows the prizes for medicine announced earlier this week.
Previous winners of the Chemistry prize include Marie Curie and Fredrick Sanger, who won twice.