Chemistry Nobel awarded for mirror-image molecules

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis,” the BBC reports.

German-born Benjamin List and Briton David MacMillan were announced as the winners at an event in Stockholm.

Their chemical toolkit has been used for discovering new drugs and making molecules that can capture light in solar cells.

The winners will share the prize money of 10 million krona.

The work by List and MacMillan has made it much easier to produce asymmetric molecules – chemicals that exist in two versions, where one is a mirror image of the other.

Chemists often just want one of these mirror images – particularly when producing medicines – but it has been difficult to find efficient methods for doing this.

The Nobel Committee said the work had “taken molecular construction to an entirely new level”.

Committee member Prof Peter Somfai, from Sweden’s Lund University, called the research a “game-changer”, adding: “We have a new tool in organic chemistry, and this is of the greatest benefit to humankind.”

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