Nobel Prize Winners in Chemistry

If you prefer a more graphical display, see Nobels

Text in black is taken directly from Encyclopædia Britannica’s biographies (see links) or other sources listed at the bottom of the page.

The descriptions in green are for work that is relevant to high school chemistry.

Year Winner Country* Achievement
1901 Hoff  van’t,  Jacobus   Netherlands for work on rates of
reaction, chemical equilibrium, and osmotic pressure
1902 Fischer, Emil Germany Fischer’s research on the
purines was instituted in 1881. He determined the structures of uric
acid, xanthine, caffeine, theobromine, and other related compounds,
and he showed that they are all derivatives of a single compound, a
nitrogenous base that he named purine.
Despite major complications because of stereochemical
relations, Fischer was able to use these derivatives to determine
the molecular structures of fructose, glucose, and many other
sugars, and he was able to verify his results by synthesizing those
compounds. He also showed how to distinguish the formulas of the 16
stereoisometric glucoses. In the course of his stereochemical
research, Fischer discovered that there are two series of sugars,
the D sugars and the L sugars, that are mirror images of each other.
His study of sugars led him to investigate the reactions and
substances involved in fermentation, and, in his investigations of
how enzymes break down sugars, Fischer laid the foundations for
enzyme chemistry.
1903 Arrhenius, Svante Sweden theory of
electrolytic dissociation.
Arrhenius not only proposed that acids and bases break up into ions,
but he used ions to explain neutralization reactions and electrical
conductivity of solutions.
1904 Ramsay, Sir William U.K. discovery of inert
gas elements and their places in the periodic system.
Through fractional distillation and spectral analysis of liquid
argon from liquid air, Ramsay discovered neon, krypton and xenon.
1905 Baeyer, Adolf von Germany Notable among Baeyer’s many achievements were
the discovery of the phthalein dyes(including indigo) and his
investigations of uric acid derivatives, polyacetylenes, and oxonium
salts. One derivative of uric acid that he discovered was barbituric
acid, the parent compound of the sedative-hypnotic drugs known as

Baeyer proposed a “strain” (Spannung) theory
that helped explain why carbon rings of five or six atoms are so
much more common than carbon rings with other numbers of atoms.

1906 Moissan, Henri France isolation of
; introduction of Moissan furnaceBy electrolysis of HF, Moissan isolated
fluorine and remarked that it could attack even cold silicon,
burning it with occasional sparks.
1907 Buchner, Eduard Germany for demonstrating that the fermentation of
carbohydrates results from the action of different enzymes contained
in yeast and not the yeast cell itself. He showed that an enzyme,
zymase, can be extracted from yeast cells and that it causes sugar
to break up into carbon dioxide and alcohol.
1908 Rutherford, Ernest U.K. investigations into the disintegration of
elements and the chemistry of radioactive substancesHis research with alpha particles led him
to propose a model of the atom in which most of the atom’s mass was
concentrated in a small positive nucleus.
1909 Ostwald, Wilhelm Germany pioneer work on catalysis, chemical
equilibrium, and reaction velocitiesOstwald showed that acidic ions that
play a role in catalysis are also released by the reactants
themselves, thus compensating for the consumption of the acid added
1910 Wallach, Otto Germany
While at Bonn, Wallach became interested in the
molecular structure of a group of essential oils that were
widely used in pharmaceutical preparations. Many of these
oils were thought at the time to be chemically distinct from
one another, since they occurred in a variety of plants.
Kekule virtually denied that they could be analyzed.
Nevertheless, Wallach, a master of experimentation, was able
by repeated distillation to separate the components of these
complex mixtures. Then, by studying their physical
properties, he could distinguish among the compounds many
that were quite similar to one another. He was able to
isolate from the essential oils a group of fragrant
substances that he named terpenes, and he showed that
most of these compounds belonged to the class now called

Wallach’s work laid the scientific basis for
the modern perfume industry.

1911 Curie, Marie France discovery of radium and polonium; isolation of
1912 Grignard, Victor France discovery of the Grignard reagents, consisting
of organometallic compounds in which a negatively polarized carbon
can add itself and its adjacent atoms to an organic compound
containing an electrophilic site

Sabatier, Paul France for his method of hydrogenating organic
compounds in the presence of finely disintegrated metals. In 1897 he
reduced ethylene to ethane with hydrogen using nickel as a catalyst
and eventually extended his approach to wide variety of organic
1913 Werner, Alfred Switzerland for coordination theory, which permitted a
simple classification of inorganic compounds and extended the
concept of isomerism
1914 Richards, Theodore William U.S. accurate determination of the atomic weights of
numerous elementsRichards improved the determination of
atomic masses; by modern standards, they were accurate to three
decimal places, paving the way for the discovery of isotopes.
1915 Willstätter, Richard Germany pioneer researches in plant pigments,
especially chlorophyll
1916-17 No Prizes awarded
1918 Haber, Fritz Germany In the first decade of the 20th century the
rapidly increasing demand for nitrogen fertilizer greatly exceeded
the supply, which still came mainly from Chilean nitrate. The
problem of utilizing atmospheric nitrogen for this purpose had
become of worldwide concern. (See nitrogen
.) Haber developed a method for synthesizing ammonia
from nitrogen and hydrogen, and by 1909 he had established
conditions for the large-scale synthesis of ammonia. The process was
handed over to Carl Bosch of Badische Anilin- & Soda-Fabrik for
industrial development, leading to the Haber-Bosch
1919 No Prize awarded
1920 Nernst, Walther Hermann Germany work in thermochemistryHis third law states that at absolute
zero (0 K) the entropy of every substance is zero.
1921 Soddy, Frederick U.K. chemistry of
radioactive substances; occurrence and nature of isotopes
1922 Aston, Francis William U.K. work with mass spectrograph; whole-number ruleBy using a mass spectograph, which
separates particles of different masses by a magnetic field, he
showed that most elements were a mixture of different isotopes.
He calso came up with the whole number
rule, which states that the mass of a specific isotope is a whole
1923 Pregl, Fritz Austria method of microanalysis of organic substances
1924 No Prize
1925 Zsigmondy, Richard Austria elucidation of the heterogeneous nature of
colloidal solutions
1926 Svedberg, Theodor H.E. Sweden for his studies in the chemistry of colloids
and for his invention of the ultracentrifuge, which he used to
determine precisely the molecular weights of highly complex proteins
such as hemoglobin
1927 Wieland, Heinrich Otto Germany for his determination of the molecular
structure of bile acids.
1928 Windaus, Adolf Germany Windaus discovered 7-dehydrocholesterol , which
is the chemical precursor of vitamin D, and he showed that it is a

He discovered that it is converted into the vitamin when
one of its chemical bonds is broken by the action of sunlight. This
explained why exposure to sunlight can prevent vitamin D deficiency
(rickets) in humans. Windaus’ research also helped establish the
chemistry of the sex hormones and advanced the development of drugs
used to treat heart ailments

1929 Euler-Chelpin, Hans von Sweden
Euler-Chelpin identified the various substrates acted
upon by enzymes in the course of fermentation reactions, and
he traced the role of phosphates in the fermentation of
sugar. He particularly studied coenzymes, which act or “coact”
with enzymes and are necessary for their action. In the case
of zymase, an enzyme in yeast, he isolated its coenzyme,
cozymase, and determined its chemical structure. He also
helped determine the chemical structure of several vitamins,
which form portions of coenzymes.
Harden, Sir Arthur U.K. His more than 20 years of study of the fermentation
of sugar advanced knowledge of intermediary metabolic processes in
all living forms. He also pioneered in studies of bacterial enzymes
and metabolism.
1930 Fischer, Hans Germany Hemin is a crystalline product of hemoglobin.
By splitting in half the molecule of bilirubin, a bile pigment
related to hemin, Fischer obtained a new acid in which a section of
the hemin molecule was still intact. Fischer identified its
structure and found it to be related to pyrrole.

This made possible
the artificial synthesis of hemin from simpler organic compounds
whose structure was known. Fischer also showed that there is a close
relationship between hemin and chlorophyll, and by the time of his
death he had nearly completed the synthesis of chlorophyll.

1931 Bergius, Friedrich Germany invention and development of chemical
high-pressure methods. These studies led to his work on converting
coal into liquid hydrocarbons.
Bosch, Carl Germany
He also invented the Bosch process for preparing
hydrogen on a manufacturing scale by passing a mixture of
steam and water gas over a suitable catalyst at high
1932 Langmuir, Irving U.S. discoveries and investigations in surface
chemistry. Langmuir’s studies of molecular films on solid and liquid
surfaces opened new fields in colloid research and biochemistry.
1934 Urey, Harold C. U.S. discovery of hydrogen’s
heavy isotope deuterium
1935 Joliot-Curie, Frédéric France synthesis of new radioactive elements
Irène Curie
1936 Debye, Peter  Netherlands for their work on dipole moments and diffraction of X
rays and electrons in gasesDebye helped reveal the nature of polar
molecules,which have an overall positive and negative parts to them.
He did this by studying their alignments in magnetic fields.
1937 Haworth, Sir Norman U.K. In 1934, with the British chemist Sir Edmund
Hirst, he succeeded in synthesizing  vitamin C, the first to be
artificially produced.

This accomplishment not only constituted a
valuable addition to knowledge of organic chemistry but also made
possible the cheap production of vitamin C (or ascorbic acid, as
Haworth called it) for medical purposes.

Karrer, Paul Switzerland Karrer’s best-known researches were on plant
pigments, particularly the yellow ones (carotenoids), which are
related to the pigment in carrots. He not only elucidated the
chemical structure of the carotenoids but also showed that some of
these substances are transformed into vitamin A in the animal body.
In 1930 he established the correct formula for carotene–the chief
precursor of vitamin A–and this was the first time that the
chemical structure of a vitamin had been established. Shortly
afterward he was able to determine the constitution of vitamin A
1938 Kuhn, Richard (declined) Germany Kuhn investigated the structure of compounds
related to the

carotenoids, the fat-soluble
yellow colouring agents widely distributed in nature. He discovered
at least eight carotenoids, prepared them in pure form, and
determined their constitution. He discovered that one was necessary
for the fertilization of certain algae. Simultaneously with Paul
Karrer he announced the constitution of vitamin B2 and
was the first to isolate a gram of it. With coworkers he also
isolated vitamin B6.
1939 Butenandt, Adolf (declined) Germany In 1929, almost simultaneously
with Edward A. Doisy in the United States, Butenandt isolated estrone,
one of the hormones responsible for sexual development and function
in females.
In 1931 he isolated and identified androsterone, a male
sex hormone, and in 1934, the hormone progesterone, which plays an
important part in the female reproductive cycle. It was now clear
that sex hormones are closely related to steroids, and after Ruzicka
showed that cholesterol could be transformed into androsterone, he
and Butenandt were able to synthesize both progesterone and the male
hormone testosterone. Butenandt’s investigations made possible the
eventual synthesis of cortisone and other steroids and led to the
development of birth control pills.
Ruzicka, Leopold Switzerland
Ruzicka’s investigations of natural
odoriferous compounds, begun in 1916, culminated in the
discovery that the molecules of muskone and civetone,
important to the perfume industry, contain rings of 15 and
17 carbon atoms, respectively.
Before this discovery, rings
with more than eight atoms had been unknown and indeed had
been believed to be too unstable to exist. Ruzicka’s
discovery greatly expanded research on these compounds. He
also showed that the carbon skeletons of terpenes and many
other large organic molecules are constructed from multiple
units of isoprene. In the mid-1930s Ruzicka discovered the
molecular structure of several male sex hormones, notably
testosterone and androsterone, and subsequently synthesized
1943 Hevesy, Georg Charles von Hungary for the use of isotopes as tracers in chemical research
1944 Hahn, Otto Germany for the discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei
1945 Virtanen, Artturi Ilmari Finland Knowing that the fermentation product, lactic
acid, increases the acidity of the silage to a point at which
destructive fermentation ceases, he developed a procedure (known by
his initials, AIV) for adding dilute hydrochloric or sulfuric acid
to newly stored silage, thereby increasing the acidity of the fodder
beyond that point. In a series of experiments (1928-29), he showed
that acid treatment has no adverse effect on the nutritive value and
edibility of the fodder and of products derived from animals fed the
1946 Northrop, John Howard U.S. preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in
pure form. He crystallized pepsin, a digestive enzyme present in
gastric juice, in 1930 and found that it is a protein, thus
resolving the dispute over what enzymes are. Using the same chemical
methods, he isolated in 1938 the first bacterial virus (bacteriophage),
which he proved to be a nucleoprotein. Northrop also helped isolate
and prepare in crystalline form pepsin’s inactive precursor
pepsinogen (which is converted to the active enzyme through a
reaction with hydrochloric acid in the stomach); the pancreatic
digestive enzymes trypsin and chymotrypsin; and their inactive
precursors trypsinogen and chymotrypsinogen.
Stanley, Wendell Meredith U.S. for the preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in
pure form. In 1935 Stanley crystallized tobacco mosaic virus (TMV,
the causative agent of a plant disease) and showed that it is a
rod-shaped aggregate of protein and nucleic acid molecules. His work
enabled other scientists, utilizing methods of X-ray diffraction, to
ascertain unambiguously the precise molecular structures and the
modes of propagation of several viruses.
Sumner, James Batcheller U.S. After crystallizing the enzyme urease in 1926,
Sumner went to Stockholm to study with Hans von
and Theodor
(The) Svedberg
. He crystallized the enzyme catalase in 1937 and
also contributed to the purification of several other enzymes.
1947 Robinson, Sir Robert U.K. His most important studies were undertaken on
alkaloids; these are complex, naturally occurring,
nitrogen-containing compounds that can have profound biochemical
effects on living things. Robinson’s efforts to determine the
chemical reactions that form alkaloids in plants led him to discover
the structures of morphine (1925) and
strychnine (1946).
1948 Tiselius, Arne Sweden for their researches in electrophoresis and adsorption
analysis. He used electrophoretic methods to separate the chemically
similar proteins of blood serum
1949 Giauque, William Francis U.S. for revealing the behaviour of substances at extremely low
temperatures. His research confirmed the third law of
thermodynamics, which states that the entropy of ordered solids
reaches zero at the absolute zero of temperature. In the course of
his low-temperature studies of oxygen, Giauque discovered with
Herrick L. Johnston the oxygen isotopes of mass 17 and 18.
1950 Alder, Kurt West Germany for the discovery and development of diene synthesis.
The diene synthesis consists essentially of the linking of a diene,
which is a substance containing two alternate double bonds, to a
dienophile, which is a compound containing a pair of doubly or
triply bonded carbon atoms. The diene and dienophile readily react
to form a six-membered ring compound. Similar reactions had been
recorded by others, but it was Alder and Diels who provided the
first experimental proof of the nature of the reaction and
demonstrated its application to the synthesis of a wide range of
ring compounds. Diene synthesis can be effected without the use of
powerful chemical reagents. It has been used to synthesize such
complex molecules as morphine, reserpine, cortisone and other
steroids, the insecticides dieldrin and aldrin, and other alkaloids
and polymers.
Diels, Otto Paul Hermann West Germany
1951 McMillan, Edwin Mattison U.S. for the discovery of and research on transuranium
Seaborg, Glenn T. U.S.
1952 Martin, A.J.P. U.K. for the development of partition chromatography. Martin
and Synge invented paper partition chromotography in 1944. Partition
chromatography depends on the partition, or distribution, of each
component of a mixture between two immiscible liquids. One of the
liquids is held stationary by strong adsorption on the surface of a
finely divided solid while the other flows through the interstices
of the solid particles. Any substance that preferentially dissolves
in the mobile liquid is more rapidly transported in the direction of
flow than is a substance that has greater affinity for the
stationary liquid.
Synge, R.L.M. U.K.
1953 Staudinger, Hermann West Germany for their work on macromolecules; devised a relationship
between viscosity and molecular weight
1954 Pauling, Linus U.S. study of the nature of the chemical bond;
introduced hybridization. In order to account for the equivalency of
the four bonds around the carbon atom, he introduced the concept of
hybrid orbitals, in which electron orbits are moved from their
original positions by mutual repulsion. Pauling also recognized the
presence of hybrid orbitals in the coordination of ions or groups of
ions in a definite geometric arrangement about a central ion. His
theory of directed (positive and negative) valence (the capacity of
an atom to combine with other atoms) was an outgrowth of his early
work, as was the concept of the partial ionic character of covalent
bonds–i.e., atoms sharing electrons. His empirical concept
of electronegativity, the power of
attraction for electrons in a covalent bond, was useful in further
clarification of these problems. In the case of compounds whose
molecules cannot be represented unambiguously by a single structure,
he introduced the concept of resonance hybrids whereby the true
structure of the molecule is regarded as an intermediate state
between two or more depictable structures. The resonance theory came
under heavy but unsuccessful attack in the U.S.S.R. in 1951 when
doctrinaire scientists of the Communist Party argued that it
conflicted with dialectical materialist principles.
1955 du Vigneaud, Vincent U.S. for the isolation and synthesis of two
pituitary hormones: vasopressin, which acts on the muscles of the
blood vessels to cause elevation of blood pressure; and oxytocin,
the principal agent causing contraction of the uterus and secretion
of milk.
1956 Hinshelwood, Sir Cyril Norman U.K. for their work on the kinetics of chemical reactionsThey studied chain mechanisms (a series of
in between steps between the reactant and product in a reaction)
involving free radicals (atoms or molecules with an unpaired
Semyonov, Nikolay Nikolayevich U.S.S.R.
1957 Todd (of Trumpington), Alexander Robertus Todd, Baron U.K. While at Manchester he began work on
nucleosides, compounds that form the structural units of nucleic
acids (DNA and RNA). In 1949 he synthesized a related substance,
adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is vital to energy utilization
in living organisms.

He synthesized two other important compounds, flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) in 1949 and uridine triphosphate
in 1954. In 1955 he elucidated the structure of vitamin B12.

1958 Sanger, Frederick U.K. for the determination of the structure of the insulin
1959 Heyrovský, Jaroslav Czech. for the discovery and development of polarography, an
instrumental method of chemical analysis used for qualitative and
quantitative determinations of reducible or oxidizable substances.
Heyrovský’s instrument measures the current that flows when a
predetermined potential is applied to two electrodes immersed in the
solution to be analyzed.
1960 Libby, Willard Frank U.S. In 1946 he showed that tritium, the heaviest
isotope of hydrogen, was produced by cosmic radiation. The following
year he and his students developed the carbon-14 dating technique.
This technique is used to date material derived from former living
organisms as old as 50,000 years. It measures small amounts of
radioactivity from the carbon-14 in organic or carbon-containing
materials and is able to identify older objects as those having less
1961 Calvin, Melvin U.S. for the study of chemical steps that take place during
photosynthesis. Calvin began his work on photosynthesis in the
mid-1940s. For his studies he developed a system of using the
radioactive isotope carbon-14 as a tracer element in the green alga Chlorella. By arresting the plant’s growth at various stages
and measuring the tiny amounts of radioactive compounds present,
Calvin was able to identify most of the reactions involved in the
intermediate steps of photosynthesis.
1962 Kendrew, Sir John Cowdery U.K. He determined the structure of the muscle
protein myoglobin, which stores oxygen and gives it to the muscle cells
when needed
Perutz, Max Ferdinand U.K. For his X-ray diffraction analysis of the structure
of hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to
the tissues via blood cells
1963 Natta, Giulio Italy for thestructure and synthesis of polymers in the
field of plastics.In 1953 Natta
began intensive study of macromolecules. Using Ziegler’s catalysts,
he experimented with the polymerization of propylene and obtained
polypropylenes of highly regular molecular structure. The
properties–high strength, high melting points–of these polymers
soon proved very commercially important.
Ziegler, Karl West Germany Ziegler’s most important discovery was made in 1953. He and a
student, E. Holzkamp, set out to repeat a preparation of higher
aluminum alkyls by heating ethylene and aluminum triethyl;
unexpectedly they obtained a complete conversion of the ethylene
monomer (CH2 = CH2) to the dimer, 1-butene (CH3CH2CH
= CH2). The explanation was found in the presence of a
trace of colloidal nickel derived from the catalyst used previously
in the autoclave for hydrogenation experiments. This led to the
discovery that substances made by mixing organometallic compounds
with compounds of certain heavy metals permitted the fast
polymerization of ethylene at atmospheric pressure to a linear
polymer of high molecular weight having valuable plastic properties
(other processes used high pressure and produced a partly branched
polymer). The catalyst derived from aluminum alkyl and titanium
tetrachloride proved especially useful. It formed the basis of
nearly all later developments in the production of long-chain
polymers of hydrocarbons from such olefins as ethylene and
butadiene; the resulting products came into widespread use as

fibres, rubbers, and films.
1964 Hodgkin, Dorothy Mary Crowfoot U.K. for determining the structure of biochemical
compounds (such as vitamin B12)essential in combating pernicious anemia.
It would later take 10 years ( from 1961 to 1971) to synthesize this
particular vitamin.


1965 Woodward, R.B. U.S. For the synthesis of compounds such as
including quinine (1944), cholesterol and cortisone (1951), and
vitamin B12 (1971)

1966 Mulliken, Robert Sanderson U.S. for work concerning chemical bonds and the
electronic structure of molecules. Mulliken began working on his
theory of molecular structure in the 1920s. He theoretically
systematized the electron states of molecules in terms of molecular
orbitals. Departing from the idea that electron orbitals for atoms
are static and that atoms combine like building blocks to form
molecules, he proposed that, when molecules are formed, the atoms’
original electron configurations are changed into an overall
molecular configuration. Further extending his theory, he developed

a quantum-mechanical theory of the
behaviour of electron orbitals as different atoms merge to form
1967 Eigen, Manfred West Germany for studies of extremely fast chemical reactions.

Eigen was able to study many extremely
fast chemical reactions by a variety of methods that he
introduced and which are called relaxation techniques. These
involve the application of bursts of energy to a solution
that briefly destroy its equilibrium before a new
equilibrium is reached. Eigen studied what happened to the
solution in the extremely brief interval between the two
equilibria by means of absorption spectroscopy. Among
specific topics thus investigated were the rate of hydrogen
ion formation through dissociation in water,
diffusion-controlled protolytic reactions, and the kinetics
of keto-enol tautomerism.
Norrish, Ronald George Wreyford U.K. Norrish and Porter, who worked together between 1949
and 1965, used the new technique of flash photolysis to study the intermediate stages involved in
extremely rapid chemical reactions. In this technique, a gaseous
system in a state of equilibrium is subjected to an ultrashort burst
of light that causes photochemical reactions in the gas. A second
burst of light is then used to detect and record the changes taking
place in the gas before equilibrium is reestablished.
Porter, Sir George U.K.
1968 Onsager, Lars U.S. He applied the laws of thermodynamics to
systems that are not in equilibrium–i.e., to systems in
which differences in temperature, pressure, or other factors exist.
Onsager also was able to formulate a general mathematical expression
about the behaviour of nonreversible chemical processes that has
been described as the “fourth law of thermodynamics.”
1969 Barton, Sir Derek H.R. U.K. for research that helped establish
conformational analysis (the study of the three-dimensional
geometric structure of complex molecules) as an essential part of
organic chemistry.
Hassel, Odd Norway
1970 Leloir, Luis Federico Argentina for the discovery of sugar nucleotides and their role
in the biosynthesis of carbohydrates
1971 Herzberg, Gerhard Canada research in the structure of molecules.Herzberg’s spectroscopic studies not only provided
experimental results of prime importance to physical chemistry and
quantum mechanics but also helped stimulate a resurgence of
investigations into the chemical reactions of gases. He devoted much
of his research to diatomic molecules, in particular the most common
ones–hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide. He discovered
the spectra of certain free radicals that are intermediate stages in
numerous chemical reactions, and he was the first to identify the
spectra of certain radicals in interstellar gas. Herzberg also
contributed much spectrographic information on the atmospheres of
the outer planets and the stars.
1972 Anfinsen, Christian B. U.S. Anfinsen studied how the enzyme ribonuclease
breaks down the ribonucleic acid (RNA) present in food. Anfinsen was
able to ascertain how the ribonuclease molecule folds to form the
characteristic three-dimensional structure that is compatible with
its function.
Moore, Stanford U.S.
Stein, William H. U.S. Moore and Stein pioneered new methods of
chromatography for use in analyzing amino acids and small peptides
obtained by the hydrolysis of proteins. In 1958 they helped develop
the first automatic amino-acid analyzer, a machine that greatly
facilitated the analysis of the amino acid sequences of proteins. In
1959 Moore and Stein used the new machine to make the first
determination of the complete chemical structure of an enzyme,
1973 Fischer, Ernst Otto West Germany organometallic chemistryFor his identification of a completely new way in which metals and
organic substances can combine. After studying the synthetic
substance ferrocene, he concluded that it consisted of two
five-sided carbon rings with a single iron atom sandwiched between
Wilkinson, Sir Geoffrey U.K. Wilkinson went on to synthesize a number of other
“sandwich” compounds, or metallocenes, and his researches into this
previously unknown type of chemical structure earned him the Nobel
1974 Flory, Paul J. U.S. for studies of long-chain molecules involved in
plastics. His research demonstrated the importance of understanding
the sizes and shapes of these flexible molecules in establishing
relationships between their chemical structures and their physical
1975 Cornforth, Sir John Warcup U.K. for work in  stereochemistry of
enzyme-catalyzed reactions such as the one involved in the synthesis
of cholestrol
Prelog, Vladimir Switzerland for work in stereochemistry of of alkaloids,
antibiotics, enzymes, and other natural compounds
1976 Lipscomb, William Nunn, Jr. U.S. for the structure of boranes.By
developing X-ray techniques that later proved useful in many
chemical applications, Lipscomb and his associates were able to map
the molecular structures of numerous boranes and their derivatives.
Boranes are compounds of boron and hydrogen. The stability of
boranes could not be explained by traditional concepts of electron
bonding, in which each pair of atoms is linked by a pair of
electrons, because boranes lacked sufficient electrons. Lipscomb
showed how a pair of electrons could be shared by three atoms. His
theory successfully served to describe boranes and many other
analogous structures.
1977 Prigogine, Ilya Belgium for widening the scope of thermodynamics.

Prigogine’s work dealt with the
application of the second law of thermodynamics to complex
systems, including living organisms. The second law states
that physical systems tend to slide spontaneously and
irreversibly toward a state of disorder (this process is
known as entropy); it does not, however, explain how complex
systems could have arisen spontaneously from less ordered
states and have maintained themselves in defiance of the
tendency toward entropy. Prigogine argued that as long as
systems receive energy and matter from an external source,
nonlinear systems (or dissipative structures, as he called
them) can go through periods of instability and then
self-organization, resulting in more complex systems whose
characteristics cannot be predicted except as statistical
probabilities. Prigogine’s work was influential in a wide
variety of fields, from physical chemistry to biology, and
was fundamental to the new disciplines of chaos theory and
complexity theory.
1978 Mitchell, Peter Dennis U.K. for the formulation of a theory of energy transfer
processes in biological systems. Mitchell studied the mitochondrion,
the organelle that produces energy for the cell. ATP is made within
the mitochondrion by adding a phosphate group to ADP in a process
known as oxidative phosphorylation. Mitchell was able to determine
how the different enzymes involved in the conversion of ADP to ATP
are distributed within the membranes that partition the interior of
the mitochondrion. He showed how these enzymes’ arrangement
facilitates their use of hydrogen ions as an energy source in the
conversion of ADP to ATP
1979 Brown, Herbert Charles U.S. introduction of compounds of boron and
phosphorus in the synthesis of organic substances


Brown’s work with borohydrides led to the
development of an important new class of inorganic reagents. His
discovery of the organoboranes revealed an array of powerful and
versatile reagents for organic synthesis. He was also known for
studies of reactions involving so-called carbonium ions or

Wittig, Georg West Germany In investigating reactions involving carbanions,
negatively charged organic species, Wittig discovered a class of
organic phosphorus compounds called ylides that mediate a particular
type of reaction that became known as the Wittig reaction. This
reaction proved of great value in the synthesis of complex organic
compounds such as vitamins A and D2, prostaglandins, and
1980 Berg, Paul U.S. first preparation of a
recombinant DNA.

In the course of studying the actions of
isolated genes, Berg evolved methods for splitting DNA
molecules at selected sites and attaching segments of the
molecule to the DNA of a virus or plasmid, which could then
enter bacterial or animal cells. The foreign DNA was
incorporated into the host and caused the synthesis of
proteins that were not ordinarily found there. One of the
earliest practical results of recombinant technology was the
development of a strain of bacteria containing the gene for
producing the mammalian hormone insulin.
Gilbert, Walter U.S. for the development of chemical and biological analyses
of DNA structure. In the 1970s Gilbert developed a widely used
technique of using gel electrophoresis to read the nucleotide
sequences of DNA segments. The same method was developed
independently by Sanger
Sanger, Frederick U.K. By 1977 he had elucidated the sequences of
nucleotides in the DNA molecule of a bacteriophage (a virus that
infects bacteria). This phage, phi-X 174, was the first organism to
have its entire nucleotide sequence determined. To achieve this
feat, Sanger again developed new laboratory techniques, this time
for splitting DNA into fragments whose base sequences can then be
1981 Fukui ,Kenichi Japan for the orbital symmetry interpretation of chemical
reactions. Hoffmann and Woodward discovered that many reactions
involving the formation or breaking of rings of atoms take courses
that depend on an identifiable symmetry in the mathematical
descriptions of the molecular orbitals that undergo the most change.
Their theory, expressed in a set of statements now called the
Woodward-Hoffmann rules, accounts for the failure of certain cyclic
compounds to form from apparently appropriate starting materials,
though others are readily produced; it also clarifies the geometric
arrangement of the atoms in the products formed when the rings in
cyclic compounds are broken.
Hoffmann, Roald U.S.
1982 Klug, Aaron U.K. for investigations of the three-dimensional
structure of viruses and other particles that are combinations of
nucleic acids and proteins, and for the development of
crystallographic electron microscopy.
1983 Taube, Henry U.S.(Canadian born) for his extensive research into the properties
and reactions of dissolved inorganic substances, particularly
oxidation-reduction processes involving the ions of metallic

The oxidation or
reduction of one metal ion by another involves their
exchange of one or more electrons. Many such reactions occur
rapidly in aqueous solution despite the fact that the stable
shells of water molecules or other ligands should keep the
two ions from getting close enough for electron exchange to
occur directly. Taube showed that, in an intermediate stage
of the reaction, a chemical bond must form between one of
the ions and a ligand that is still bonded to the other.
This ligand acts as a temporary bridge between the two ions,
and its bond to the original ion can later break in such a
way as to effect–indirectly–the electron transfer that
completes the reaction. Taube’s findings have been applied
in selecting metallic compounds for use as catalysts,
pigments, and superconductors and in understanding the
function of metal ions as constituents of certain enzymes.(from
Britannica biography
1984 Merrifield, Bruce U.S. for the development of a method of polypeptide
1985 Hauptman, Herbert A. U.S. Hauptman and Karle devised mathematical
equations to extract phase information from the intensity of spots
resulting from the diffraction of X rays deflected off crystals.
Their equations made it possible to pinpoint the location of atoms
within the crystal’s molecules based upon an analysis of the
intensity of the spots.
Karle, Jerome U.S.
1986 Herschbach, Dudley R. U.S. for the development of methods for analyzing basic
chemical reactions
Lee, Yuan T. U.S.
Polanyi, John C. Canada
1987 Pedersen, Charles J. U.S. for the discovery of crown ethers, organic molecules that can solvate metal ions,
which normally do not dissolve in organic solvents.

Lehn, Jean-Marie France Formed cryptands from crown ethers by
replacing  O’s with N’s
Cram, Donald J. U.S. Formed cryptates, which selectively recognized
and bound specific guest molecules and ions.
1988 Deisenhofer, Johann West Germany for the discovery of structure of proteins needed in

Michel, Huber and Deisenhofer set out to study the
structure of a protein complex found in certain

bacteria. This protein,
called a photosynthetic reaction centre, was known to play a
crucial role in initiating a simple type of photosynthesis.
Between 1982 and 1985, the three scientists used X-ray
crystallography to determine the exact arrangement of the
more than 10,000 atoms that make up the protein complex.
Their research increased the general understanding of the
mechanisms of photosynthesis and revealed similarities
between the photosynthetic processes of plants and bacteria.
Huber, Robert West Germany
Michel, Hartmut West Germany
1989 Altman, Sidney U.S.

(born in Canada)

for the discovery of certain basic properties of RNA.The old belief was that enzymatic activity–the
triggering and acceleration of vital chemical reactions within
living cells–was the exclusive domain of protein molecules.
Altman’s and Cech’s revolutionary discovery was that RNA,
traditionally thought to be simply a passive carrier of genetic
codes between different parts of the living cell, could also take on
active enzymatic functions. This new knowledge opened up new fields
of scientific research and biotechnology and caused scientists to
rethink old theories of how cells function.
Cech, Thomas Robert U.S.
1990 Corey, Elias James U.S. for the development of retrosynthetic analysis for synthesis of complex molecules. This technique involves
breaking down an organic compound into several stages, ensuring that
each step is reversible so that the route can eventually be traced
backwards. With such an approach, Corey synthesied a wide variety of
terpenes and ginkgolide B (used in treating asthma). Link to synthesis.

1991 Ernst, Richard R. Switzerland for improvements in nuclear magnetic resonance
spectroscopy.In 1966, working with an American
colleague, Ernst discovered that the sensitivity of NMR techniques
(hitherto limited to analysis of only a few nuclei) could be
dramatically increased by replacing the slow, sweeping radio waves
traditionally used in NMR spectroscopy with short, intense pulses.
His discovery enabled analysis of a great many more types of nuclei
and smaller amounts of materials.
1992 Marcus, Rudolph A. U.S.

(born Mtl,Canada)

for an explanation of how electrons transfer between
molecules. In a series of papers
published between 1956 and 1965, he investigated the role of
surrounding solvent molecules in determining the rate of redox
reactions–oxidation and reduction reactions in which the reactants
exchange electrons–in solution. Marcus determined that subtle
changes occur in the molecular structure of the reactants and the
solvent molecules around them; these changes influence the ability
of electrons to move between the molecules. He further established
that the relationship between the driving force of an
electron-transfer reaction and the reaction’s rate is described by a
parabola. Thus, as more driving force is applied to a reaction, its
rate at first increases but then begins to decrease. This insight
aroused considerable skepticism until it was confirmed
experimentally in the 1980s.
1993 Mullis, Kary B. U.S. inventors of techniques for gene study and
manipulation. Mullis developed PCR (polymerase chain reaction) in 1983.
Earlier methods for obtaining a specific sequence of DNA in
quantities sufficient for study were difficult, time-consuming,
and expensive. PCR uses four ingredients: the double-stranded
DNA segment to be copied, called the template DNA; two
oligonucleotide primers (short segments of single-stranded DNA,
each of which is complementary to a short sequence on one of the
strands of the template DNA); nucleotides, the chemical building
blocks that make up DNA; and a polymerase enzyme that copies the
template DNA by joining the free nucleotides in the correct
order. These ingredients are heated, causing the template DNA to
separate into two strands. The mixture is cooled, allowing the
primers to attach themselves to the complementary sites on the
template strands. The polymerase is then able to begin copying
the template strands by adding nucleotides onto the end of the
primers, producing two molecules of double-stranded DNA.
Repeating this cycle increases the amount of DNA exponentially:
some 30 cycles, each lasting only a few minutes, will produce
more than a billion copies of the original DNA sequence.
Before the advent of Smith’s method, the technique biochemical
researchers used to create genetic mutations was imprecise and
the haphazard approach made it a difficult and time-consuming
task. Smith remedied this situation by developing site-directed
mutagenesis, a technique that can be used to modify nucleotide
sequences at specific, desired locations within a gene. This had
made it possible for researchers to determine the role each
amino acid plays in protein structure and function. Aside from
its value to basic research, site-directed mutagenesis has many
applications in medicine, agriculture, and industry. For
example, it can be used to produce a protein variant that is
more stable, active, or useful than its natural counterpart.
Smith, Michael Canada
1994 Olah, George A. U.S. development of techniques to study hydrocarbon
molecules. Although theoretically recognized for several decades as a common
intermediate in many organic reactions, carbocations were unobservable because they were a short-lived, unstable class of
compound. Olah was able to successfully disassemble, examine, and
then recombine carbocations through the use of superacids and
ultracold solvents
1995 Crutzen, Paul Netherlands explanation of processes that deplete Earth’s
ozone layer. Rowland and Molina theorized that CFC gases
combine with solar radiation and decompose in the stratosphere,
releasing atoms of chlorine and chlorine monoxide that are
individually able to destroy large numbers of ozone molecules. The
chlorine atoms were persistent because they were recycled once an
intermediate radical, ClO, reacted with atomic oxygen. Earlier,
in 1970 Crutzen had discovered that
nonreactive nitrous oxide (N2O), produced naturally by
soil bacteria, rises into the stratosphere, where solar energy
splits it into two reactive compounds, NO and NO2. These
compounds, which remain active for some time, react catalytically
with ozone (O3).
Mainly because
of their influence, production of CFC’s was eventually banned.
Molina, Mario U.S.
Rowland, F. Sherwood U.S.
1996 Curl, Robert F., Jr. U.S. discovery of new carbon compounds called
fullerenes, spherical clusters of carbon atoms

By crystallizing buckminsterfullerene at high pressures, other
chemists created a material that could scratch diamond.

Kroto, Sir Harold W. U.K.
Smalley, Richard E. U.S.
1997 PAUL D. BOYER U.S. for their elucidation of the enzymatic
mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
JENS C. SKOU  Denmark for the first discovery of an ion-transporting
enzyme, Na+, K+-ATPase.
1998 JOHN A. POPLE  U.K. for pioneering contributions in developing
methods(quantum chemistry) that can be used for theoretical studies
of molecular properties and related chemical processes.
WALTER KOHN U.S.(born Austria)

(born Egypt)

for his studies of the transition states of
chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy.
2000 ALAN J. HEEGER U.S. for the discovery and development of conductive

(born New Zealand)

2001 K. BARRY SHARPLESS U.S. for their work on chirally-catalysed oxidation
reactions. They developed molecules that can catalyze important
reactions so that only one of the two mirror image forms is
produced. The catalyst molecule, which itself is chiral, speeds up
the reaction without being consumed. Just one of these molecules can
produce millions of molecules of the desired mirror image form.(
2002 JOHN B. FENN, U.S. for their development of soft desorption
ionization methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological
2003 PETER AGRE U.S. for advancing knowledge about cellular membrane
channels — passageways that control the movement of molecules across
cell membranes. More details.
2004 Aaron Ciechanover Israel

Directly from

Aaron Ciechanover, Avram
Hershko and Irwin Rose have brought us to
realise that the cell functions as a
highly-efficient checking station where proteins
are built up and broken down at a furious rate.
The degradation is not indiscriminate but takes
place through a process that is controlled in
detail so that the proteins to be broken down at
any given moment are given a molecular label, a
‘kiss of death’, to be dramatic. The labelled
proteins are then fed into the cells’ “waste
disposers”, the so called proteasomes, where
they are chopped into small pieces and

The label consists of a
molecule called ubiquitin. This
fastens to the protein to be destroyed,
accompanies it to the proteasome where it is
recognised as the key in a lock, and signals
that a protein is on the way for disassembly.
Shortly before the protein is squeezed into the
proteasome, its ubiquitin label is disconnected
for re-use.

Avram Hershko Israel
Irwin Rose U.S.
2005 YVES CHAUVIN France For developing metathesis reactions in which double bonds are broken and made
between carbon atoms in ways that cause atom groups to change places. This happens with the
assistance of special
catalyst molecules. Metathesis can be compared to a dance in which the couples change partners.

Grubbs U.S.
Richard Schrock U.S.
2006 Roger
U.S. For an
atomic-level explanation of  how DNA is copied into messenger
RNA (transcription). His work may some day help stem-cell research.
2007 Gerhard Ertl Germany Gerhard Ertl
is known for determining the detailed molecular mechanisms of the
catalytic synthesis of ammonia over iron (Haber
Bosch process
) and the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide over palladium (catalytic
). During his research he discovered the important
phenomenon of oscillatory reactions on platinum surfaces and, using
photoelectron microscopy, was able to image for the first time, the
oscillating changes in surface structure and coverage that occur
during the reaction.

He always used new observation techniques
like low energy electron diffraction (LEED) at the beginning
of his career, later ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS) and scanning tunneling microscope (STM) yielding ground
breaking results. (directly from Wikipedia)

2008 Osamu
U.S. The three
scientists were awarded the prize for their work on the green
fluorescent protein (GFP), which is visible under blue and
ultraviolet light.
GFP, first isolated from
jellyfish, attaches itself to regulatory proteins in the cell and
allows them to be monitored
The GFP gene can now be cloned and produced in different colours
to track different proteins simultaneously.GFP has been used to detect pollutants in the environment, in
glow-in-the-dark toys, and to study the growth of tumour cells.For more details see
Martin Chalfie. U.S.
Roger Y. Tsien. U.S

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

U.K For studies of the structure and function of the ribosome Using Xray crystallography, the three recipients generated 3D models to show how different antibiotics bind to the ribosome. What a nice example of intermolecular bonding! These models are now used to develop new antibiotics. An X-ray structure of a bacterium ribosome. The rRNA molecules are colored orange, the proteins of the small subunit are blue and the proteins of the large subunit are green. An antibiotic molecule (red) is bound to the small subunit. Scientists study these structures in order to design new and more effective antibiotics. (Credit: Image courtesy of Nobel Foundation)

Thomas A. Steitz

Ada E. Yonath Israel

U.S. .

Organic chemistry has developed into an art form where scientists produce marvelous chemical creations in their test tubes. Mankind benefits from this in the form of medicines, ever-more precise electronics and advanced technological materials. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2010 awards one of the most sophisticated tools available to chemists today.

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded to Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki for the development of palladium-catalyzed cross coupling. This chemical tool has vastly improved the possibilities for chemists to create sophisticated chemicals, for example carbon-based molecules as complex as those created by nature itself.

Carbon-based (organic) chemistry is the basis of life and is responsible for numerous fascinating natural phenomena: colour in flowers, snake poison and bacteria killing substances such as penicillin. Organic chemistry has allowed man to build on nature’s chemistry; making use of carbon’s ability to provide a stable skeleton for functional molecules. This has given mankind new medicines and revolutionary materials such as plastics.

In order to create these complex chemicals, chemists need to be able to join carbon atoms together. However, carbon is stable and carbon atoms do not easily react with one another. The first methods used by chemists to bind carbon atoms together were therefore based upon various techniques for rendering carbon more reactive. Such methods worked when creating simple molecules, but when synthesizing more complex molecules chemists ended up with too many unwanted by-products in their test tubes.

Palladium-catalyzed cross coupling solved that problem and provided chemists with a more precise and efficient tool to work with. In the Heck reaction, Negishi reaction and Suzuki reaction, carbon atoms meet on a palladium atom, whereupon their proximity to one another kick-starts the chemical reaction.

Palladium-catalyzed cross coupling is used in research worldwide, as well as in the commercial production of for example pharmaceuticals and molecules used in the electronics industry.


Israel  .

In quasicrystals, we find the fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms: regular patterns that never repeat themselves. However, the configuration found in quasicrystals was considered impossible, and Dan Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 has fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter.

On the morning of 8 April 1982, an image counter to the laws of nature appeared in Dan Shechtman’s electron microscope. In all solid matter, atoms were believed to be packed inside crystals in symmetrical patterns that were repeated periodically over and over again. For scientists, this repetition was required in order to obtain a crystal.

Shechtman’s image, however, showed that the atoms in his crystal were packed in a pattern that could not be repeated. Such a pattern was considered just as impossible as creating a football using only six-cornered polygons, when a sphere needs both five- and six-cornered polygons. His discovery was extremely controversial. In the course of defending his findings, he was asked to leave his research group. However, his battle eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter.

Aperiodic mosaics, such as those found in the medieval Islamic mosaics of the Alhambra Palace in Spain and the Darb-i Imam Shrine in Iran, have helped scientists understand what quasicrystals look like at the atomic level. In those mosaics, as in quasicrystals, the patterns are regular – they follow mathematical rules – but they never repeat themselves.

When scientists describe Shechtman’s quasicrystals, they use a concept that comes from mathematics and art: the golden ratio. This number had already caught the interest of mathematicians in Ancient Greece, as it often appeared in geometry. In quasicrystals, for instance, the ratio of various distances between atoms is related to the golden mean.

Following Shechtman’s discovery, scientists have produced other kinds of quasicrystals in the lab and discovered naturally occurring quasicrystals in mineral samples from a Russian river. A Swedish company has also found quasicrystals in a certain form of steel, where the crystals reinforce the material like armor. Scientists are currently experimenting with using quasicrystals in different products such as frying pans and diesel engines.


U.S. .

Your body is a fine-tuned system of interactions between billions of cells. Each cell has tiny receptors that enable it to sense its environment, so it can adapt to new situations. Robert Lefkowitz andBrian Kobilka are awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family of such receptors: G-protein–coupled receptors.

For a long time, it remained a mystery how cells could sense their environment. Scientists knew that hormones such as adrenalin had powerful effects: increasing blood pressure and making the heart beat faster. They suspected that cell surfaces contained some kind of recipient for hormones. But what these receptors actually consisted of and how they worked remained obscured for most of the 20th Century.

Lefkowitz started to use radioactivity in 1968 in order to trace cells’ receptors. He attached an iodine isotope to various hormones, and thanks to the radiation, he managed to unveil several receptors, among those a receptor for adrenalin: β-adrenergic receptor. His team of researchers extracted the receptor from its hiding place in the cell wall and gained an initial understanding of how it works.

The team achieved its next big step during the 1980s. The newly recruited Kobilka accepted the challenge to isolate the gene that codes for the β-adrenergic receptor from the gigantic human genome. His creative approach allowed him to attain his goal. When the researchers analyzed the gene, they discovered that the receptor was similar to one in the eye that captures light. They realized that there is a whole family of receptors that look alike and function in the same manner.

Today this family is referred to as G-protein–coupled receptors. About a thousand genes code for such receptors, for example, for light, flavour, odour, adrenalin, histamine, dopamine and serotonin. About half of all medications achieve their effect through G-protein–coupled receptors.

The studies by Lefkowitz and Kobilka are crucial for understanding how G-protein–coupled receptors function. Furthermore, in 2011, Kobilka achieved another break-through; he and his research team captured an image of the β-adrenergic receptor at the exact moment that it is activated by a hormone and sends a signal into the cell. This image is a molecular masterpiece – the result of decades of research.


Austria/U.S .

Chemists used to create models of molecules using plastic balls and sticks. Today, the modelling is carried out in computers. In the 1970s,Martin KarplusMichael Levitt and Arieh Warshel laid the foundation for the powerful programs that are used to understand and predict chemical processes. Computer models mirroring real life have become crucial for most advances made in chemistry today. Chemical reactions occur at lightning speed. In a fraction of a millisecond, electrons jump from one atomic to the other. Classical chemistry has a hard time keeping up; it is virtually impossible to experimentally map every little step in a chemical process. Aided by the methods now awarded with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, scientists let computers unveil chemical processes, such as a catalyst’s purification of exhaust fumes or the photo­synthesis in green leaves. The work of Karplus, Levitt and Warshel is ground-breaking in that they managed to make Newton’s classical physics work side-by-side with the fundamentally different quantum physics. Previously, chemists had to choose to use either or. The strength of classical physics was that calculations were simple and could be used to model really large molecules. Its weakness, it offered no way to simulate chemical reactions. For that purpose, chemists instead had to use quantum physics. But such calculations required enormous computing power and could therefore only be carried out for small molecules.

This year’s Nobel Laureates in chemistry took the best from both worlds and devised methods that use both classical and quantum physics. For instance, in simulations of how a drug couples to its target protein in the body, the computer performs quantum theoretical calculations on those atoms in the target protein that interact with the drug. The rest of the large protein is simulated using less demanding classical physics.

Today the computer is just as important a tool for chemists as the test tube. Simulations are so realistic that they predict the outcome of traditional experiments.

S. Africaa/U.S.

U.S. .

For a long time optical microscopy was held back by a presumed limitation: that it would never obtain a better resolution than half the wavelength of light. Helped by fluorescent molecules the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2014 ingeniously circumvented this limitation. Their ground-breaking work has brought optical microscopy into the nanodimension.

In what has become known as nanoscopy, scientists visualize the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells. They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate; they follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos.

It was all but obvious that scientists should ever be able to study living cells in the tiniest molecular detail. In 1873, the microscopist Ernst Abbe stipulated a physical limit for the maximum resolution of traditional optical microscopy: it could never become better than 0.2 micrometres. Eric BetzigStefan W. Helland William E. Moerner are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 for having bypassed this limit. Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld.

Two separate principles are rewarded. One enables the method stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, developed by Stefan Hell in 2000. Two laser beams are utilized; one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow, another cancels out all fluorescence except for that in a nanometre-sized volume. Scanning over the sample, nanometre for nanometre, yields an image with a resolution better than Abbe’s stipulated limit.

Eric Betzig and William Moerner, working separately, laid the foundation for the second method, single-molecule microscopy. The method relies upon the possibility to turn the fluorescence of individual molecules on and off. Scientists image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-image resolved at the nanolevel. In 2006 Eric Betzig utilized this method for the first time.

Today, nanoscopy is used world-wide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis.

2015 .
*Nationality given is the citizenship of
recipient at the time award was made. Prizes may be withheld or not
awarded in years when no worthy recipient can be found or when the
world situation (e.g., World Wars I and II) prevents the
gathering of information needed to reach a decision.
Most of the
text was taken directly from and its biographical links

Photos from the
Nobel e-Museum

Recent entries
taken from:

Hutton, K.B. Chemistry.
Helicon. 2001
Copyright © 2015 Writing in green and
structures added by E. Uva. All Rights to cheer for Celtics Reserved.

Uva’s reference: Nobel Prize Winners in Chemistry. Eduard Farber.
Abelard-Schuman. 1962

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s