The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 was awarded this Wednesday (6) to Benjamin List and David WC MacMillan, scientists who developed a tool for building molecules, work that led to advances in the pharmaceutical industry and helped to reduce the impact of chemical compounds in the environment.
The tool created by the two scientists is organocatalysis.
“Catalysts are fundamental tools for chemists,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement. However, for a long time, researchers believed that there were, in principle, only two types of catalysts available: metals and enzymes.
“Benjamin List and David MacMillan are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 because in 2000 they independently developed a third type of catalysis. It is called asymmetric organocatalysis and is based on small organic molecules,” the statement says.
Benjamin List, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, and David WC MacMillan, from Princeton University, United States, will share the prize of 10 million SEK (about R$6.1 million). millions).
Organic catalysts have a stable structure of carbon atoms, with which other active chemical groups can bind. These groups generally contain elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur or phosphorus, and are ecological and inexpensive to produce.
“Organocatalysis has developed at an impressive rate since 2000. List and MacMillan remain leaders in their fields,” the committee says. With these reactions, researchers can more efficiently build a wide variety of things, from new drugs to molecules capable of capturing light in solar cells.
Who are the 2021 Nobel Prize winners
The Nobel Prize in Physics was announced on Tuesday to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi. The Committee said that their work is essential to understanding the changes in the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences those changes.
On Monday, the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology was awarded to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their studies of how the human body perceives heat and touch, which led to the development of pain relievers.
Other 2021 Nobel Prize winners will be announced in the coming days. See the schedule:
- Thursday (7): Literature
- Friday (8): Peace
- Monday (11): Economy