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Benjamin List & David MacMillan Awarded 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

List and MacMillan were given the award “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis.”

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was, on Wednesday, 6 October, awarded to Benjamin List and David WC MacMillan 'for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis'.</p></div>
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The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was on Wednesday, 6 October, awarded to Benjamin List and David WC MacMillan for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis, a 'new and ingenious' tool for molecule building.

According to the statement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, List and Macmillan's discovery has taken molecular construction to an entirely new level, making chemistry greener and making the production of asymmetric molecules easier.

Before the development, only two kinds of catalysts had been discovered by researchers. With the development of asymmetric organocatalysis, a third type, which builds upon small organic molecules, came to the fore.

Catalysts, fundamental tools for chemists, are substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions, without becoming part of the final product.

List and MacMillan discovered the third catalysis in 2000, independently of each other.

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More About the Laureates

List, who was born in 1968 in Germany's Frankfurt, received his PhD from Goethe University Frankfurt and presently serves as the Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.

He wondered whether an entire enzyme was really required to obtain a catalyst, and subsequently tested whether an amino acid, called proline, could catalyse a chemical reaction.

Meanwhile, David MacMillan, who was born in 1968, worked with metal catalysts that were easily destroyed by moisture. His research has focused on whether a more durable catalyst could be developed using simple organic molecules.

Hailing from Bellshill, United Kingdom, MacMillan has a PhD from University of California, Irvine, and is currently a professor at Princeton University, United States.

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