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.
- 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.