Nobel Prize in Chemistry


During this week before the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockolm and Oslo, December 10, we present the Nobel Prize winners and what they have received the prize for.

The Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry are Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel.These three researchers have made it possible to map chemical processes with the help of computers. It is important to have detailed knowledge of chemical processes because it makes it possible to opitmize e.g. solar cells, catalysts and medicines.

In 1970s Karplus, Levitt and Warshel develope methods which have made it possible for us to do chemical experiments on the computer and and examine every step in the processes which other wise would be invisible for the naked eye. Take pohotosythesis. It is impossible to see the reactions occuring in the process without a computer. You can see how atoms and iones are positioned in relation to each ther but this does not tell you what they do which is what you have to find out. For this you need the computer programmes that the Nobel Laureates have laid the foundation for.

These computer programmes calculate possible scenarios which is caleld simulation or modelling. These simulation give ideas to as what roles atoms play at the different stages of the chemical reaction. After it is easier to carry out real experiments to confirm if the computer was right or not. These experiments give new leads which can in turn lead to better simulations.

To be able to use computers to carry our experiments has given us a deeper understanding of chemical processes. Methods thant Karplus, Levitt and Warshel developed are usable in all kinds of studies of chemistry.

Martin Karplus is born i Wien 1930. Today he is Professeur Conventionné, Université de Strasbourg, Frankrike and Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry, emeritus, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Michael Levitt is born 1947 i Pretoria Sydafrika. Today he is Robert W. and Vivian K.Cahill Professor in Cancer Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

Arieh Warshel is born 1940 in Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel. Today he is Distinguished Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Reading tips and a longer popular science background on Noble Prize in Chemistry.

Pieta Eklund