Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2021

  • IASbaba
  • October 7, 2021
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Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2021

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Sci and tech

Context Germany’s Benjamin List and U.S.-based David MacMillan won the Nobel Chemistry Prize for developing a tool to build molecules which has helped make chemistry more environmentally friendly.

Key takeaways 

  • Their tool, which they developed independently of each other in 2000, can be used to control and accelerate chemical reactions, exerting a big impact on drug research.
  • Prior to their work, scientists believed there were only two types of catalysts — metals and enzymes.
    • Catalysts are substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions, without becoming part of the final product.
  • The new technique relies on small organic molecules and is called “asymmetric organocatalysis”.
  • It is widely used in pharmaceuticals, allowing drug makers to streamline the production of medicines for depression and respiratory infections, among others.
  • Organocatalysts allow several steps in a production process to be performed in an unbroken sequence, considerably reducing waste in chemical manufacturing.

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