David MacMillan, born in Scotland, and Benjamin List, of Germany, both won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their tools have helped to develop more environmentally friendly drugs than ever before.
In addition to helping develop plastics, perfumes, and flavors, the award-giving body called their asymmetric organocatalysis “a new and ingenious tool for molecule building.”.
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences reported that organic catalysts have the capability of catalyzing a wide range of chemical reactions. Researchers can now more efficiently construct everything from new pharmaceuticals to molecules that can capture light in solar cells using these reactions.”
Molecules called catalysts enable or speed up chemical reactions carried out in labs or large industrial reactors because they remain stable. A decade ago, the laureates’ breakthrough discoveries at the turn of the millennium had only been possible with certain metals and complex enzymes.
In addition, the academy praised the precision of the new tools and said the new small molecule catalysts were friendly for the environment and cheaper to manufacture.
‘NOT A STUPID IDEA’
A shocked and overjoyed MacMillan, 53, told CNN that he is both stunned and overjoyed about the announcement.
My phone started going crazy after I got some texts from people in Sweden really early this morning and I thought they were playing a prank on me, so I went back to sleep.”
According to List, he did not initially know MacMillan was doing similar work in this area and figured he’d come up with something stupid until it worked.
A simple idea like organocatalysis sparked a lot of different research, and what we’re most proud of is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to do fine things in chemistry, MacMillan said.
Ten million Swedish kronor will be shared equally between the Laureates as the prize money.
Benjamin List, born 1968 in Frankfurt, Germany. Ph.D. 1997 from Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.
David W.C. MacMillan, born 1968 in Bellshill, UK. Ph.D. 1996 from University of California, Irvine, USA. Professor at Princeton University, USA.