Last Updated:

Nobel Winner Benjamin List Wishes 'to Go To Extremes', Asks If The Impossible Can Be Done

Laureate Benjamin List, who won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with David W.C. MacMillan, talked about future research at the press conference.

Benjamin List

IMAGE: Twitter/mpimet.mpg.de


Laureate Benjamin List, who won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, spoke about the future research at the press conference on Wednesday and revealed that he liked to “go to the extremes.” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has announced that the Nobel Prize in chemistry 2021 was jointly awarded to List and David W.C. Macmillan “for the development of asymmetrical organocatalysis.” 

The German scientist, not only shared the selfie with her wife with the academy but also questioned during the press conference if people could do things that were “just impossible before.” Additionally, the List lab also shared a video of exhilarated members who cheered for the newest Nobel laureate. The official account of the Nobel Prize reshared the video congratulating List from Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.

What did Benjamin List discover?

Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has said that Benjamin LIst and David MacMillan are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for their development of a precise new tool for molecular construction: organocatalysis” which “had a great impact on pharmaceutical research, and has made chemistry greener.”

While researchers, for the longest time believed that there are just two types of catalysts, metals and enzymes, List and MacMillan separately developed a third type of catalysis. It is called asymmetric organocatalysis and builds upon smaller organic molecules. Johan Åqvist, who is chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, said in a statement, “This concept for catalysis is as simple as it is ingenious, and the fact is that many people have wondered why we didn’t think of it earlier.”

What are organocatalysts?

The academy explained in its statement that organic catalysts have a stable framework of carbon atoms that allows more active chemical groups to attach. These mostly contain common elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur or phosphorus meaning that these catalysts are both environmentally friendly and can be produced at low cost. The Nobel Prize academy has said that the rapid expansion in the usage of organic catalysts is primarily due to their ability to drive asymmetric catalysis. 

“When molecules are being built, situations often occur where two different molecules can form, which – just like our hands – are each other’s mirror image. Chemists will often only want one of these, particularly when producing pharmaceuticals,” the academy explained.

“Organocatalysis has developed at an astounding speed since 2000,” it added.

IMAGE: Twitter/mpimet.mpg.de

First Published: