Nobel Prizewinners

Discoveries and inventions of the Nobel Prizewinners (nobelists) had big impacts in the development of science, medicine, drugs and technological progress and the awareness of them is part of the learning of Chemistry and demonstrates how important science is for the world.

I want to start to list Nobel laureates in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine with a short summary of their breakthrough discoveries. The Nobel Foundation is a private institution in Stockholm, Sweden, founded in 1900 to administrate the Nobel Prizes. The Foundation is based on the last will of Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist (1895), the inventor of dynamite.

1) In 2021, Benjamin List, German chemist and David M C MacMillan, Scottish chemist have been independently awarded for the development of a precise new tool for molecular construction: the asymmetric organocatalysis of small organic molecules. This concept has a great impact on pharmaceutical research.

2) In 2020, Emmanuelle Charpentier, French microbiologist, geneticist and biochemist and Jennifer A. Doudna, American biochemist have been jointly awarderd "for the development of a method for genome editing". This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.

3) In 1918, Franz Haber, Polish chemist has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his invention of the Haber-Bosch process, a method used in industry to synthesise ammonia from nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas. The invention is important for the production of fertilizers and explosives.

4) In 1962, Max Ferdinand Perutz, Austrian-born British molecular biologist and John Cowdery Kendrew, English biochemist have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their studies and the determination of the atomic structures of globular proteins (hemoglobin and myoglobin) by using X-ray crystallography.

5) In 1903 and 1911, Marie Curie, Polish/French chemist and physicist, the first women to win a Nobel Prize in Physics and in Chemistry, has been awarded for her pioneering research on radioactivity. She discovered the existence of the both elements Radium and Polonium. Radioactive compounds became important as sources of radiation in both scientific experiments and in the field of medicine, where they are used to treat tumors.

6) In 1922, Niels Henrik David Bohr, Danish physicist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for "for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them."
The discovery of the electron and radioactivity in the late 19th century led to different models being proposed for the atom’s structure. In 1913, Niels Bohr proposed a theory for the hydrogen atom, based on quantum theory that some physical quantities only take discrete values. Electrons move around a nucleus, but only in prescribed orbits, and If electrons jump to a lower-energy orbit, the difference is sent out as radiation. Bohr’s model explained why atoms only emit light of fixed wavelengths, and later incorporated the theories on light quanta.

7) Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Egyptian born British chemist, discovered the structure of penicillin in 1964 using X-Ray crystallography. This was followed in 1956 by her discovery of vitamin B12 - known as the vitamin with the most complex structure. She won her Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1964 for ‘her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances’.

8) Ernest Rutherford, physicist from New Zealand won the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1908 for ‘his disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances’. He discovered alpha and beta rays - changing the model of the atom to the nuclear model.