Published October 05, 2005
Americans Robert H. Grubbs (search) and Richard R. Schrock (search) and Yves Chauvin of France won the 2005 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for work that reduces hazardous waste in creating new chemicals.
The trio won the award for their development of the metathesis method for creating new organic molecules. Metathesis (search) has tremendous commercial potential in the pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and foodstuffs production industries. It is also used in the development of revolutionary polymers.
The method lets scientists rearrange groups of atoms within molecules to form new chemicals.
The process is used "daily in the chemical industry, mainly in the development of pharmaceuticals and advanced plastic materials," the committee said.
"This represents a great step forward for 'green chemistry,' reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production. Metathesis is an example of how important basic science has been applied for the benefit of man, society and the environment," the committee said.
Grubbs, 63, is a professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology (search), and Schrock is a chemistry professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chauvin, 74, is the honorary director of research at the Institute Francois du Petrole in Ruel-Malmaison, France.
The three men share the $1.3 million award, which will be presented Dec. 10 in the Swedish capital.
On Tuesday, Americans John L. Hall and Roy J. Glauber and German Theodor W. Haensch won the 2005 Nobel Prize (search) in physics for their work in advancing the precision of optic technology, which could improve communication worldwide and help spacecraft navigate more accurately to the stars.
The prize was given to the three for their work in applying modern quantum physics to the study of optics — a pursuit that has led to the improvement of lasers, optical clocks, GPS technology and other instruments.
On Monday, Australians Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for proving, partly by accident, that bacteria — not stress — were the main cause of painful ulcers of the stomach and intestine.
The award for peace will be announced on Friday in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. The economics prize, the only one not named in Nobel's will, will be announced Oct. 10.
So far, the Swedish Academy, which awards the literature prize, has not yet set a date for its announcement, meaning the award could be announced next week.