On Wednesday, October 6, in Stockholm, the Nobel Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the names of the winners of the 2021 Chemistry Prize. It was awarded to German scientist Benjamin Liszt and British-American scientist David Macmillan «for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis». The development of the winners in the committee was called «a unique tool for creating and combining molecules».
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was first awarded in 1901. Since then, about 186 laureates have received the award.
For a long time, researchers were convinced that there are only two types of catalysts — metals and enzymes. Benjamin Liszt and David Macmillan independently created a third type of catalyst — asymmetric organocatalysis based on small organic molecules.
According to members of the Nobel Committee, the discovery of asymmetric organocatalysis brings molecular synthesis to a fundamentally new level, which not only makes the process more environmentally friendly, but also significantly simplifies the synthesis of asymmetric molecules.
Molecules created by this method can find the widest application, from pharmaceuticals to solar panels.
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