2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Benjamin List and David MacMillan win

Today, 6 October, the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was announced: the award went to the German Benjamin List and the British David WC MacMillan. The announcement came after those of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, which went to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, and for Physics, which went to the Italian Giorgio Parisi, Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann.

The Nobel Prize for Molecule Engineers

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry awarded the discovery of a new type of catalysis that allows the use of organic molecules with a simpler and more effective procedure. The new technique that the two researchers independently developed, called organocatalysis, was awarded. This allows the molecules to be combined together to obtain new ones, preventing contamination from occurring during the reaction. Thanks to this technique it is possible to obtain, for example, new molecules of pharmacological interest, or new generation solar cells or more efficient batteries. Another important implication is that it is an environmentally friendly technique, functional to the so-called ‘green chemistry’.

Who are the winners

Benjamin List, 53, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, where he graduated in 1997. He directs the Max Plank Institute specializing in research on catalysis. David WC MacMillan is the same age, 53, and was born in 1968 in Great Britain, in Bellshill. He studied in the United States, where he graduated in 1966 from the University of California. Now he teaches at Princeton.