Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Chemicals William S. Knowles, Ryoji Noyori and K. Barry Sharpless
2001/10/10 Roa Zubia, Guillermo - Elhuyar Zientzia
Products that accelerate chemical reactions are known and used for a long time. These products participate in the reaction but without changes, that is, they have the same chemical structure as at the end of the process.
The "help" of these products to accelerate reactions is called catalysis and the catalyst product itself. For example, the addition of platinum or palladium in many of the reactions involved in the hydrogen molecule significantly accelerates the reaction. There are many examples in everyday life, such as lead that was added to better burn gasoline.
The chemicals awarded the Nobel Prize this year have prepared catalysts for use in asymmetric reactions. This means that, in addition to provoking a quick and effective reaction, these products function only with molecules in a certain way.
For example, Knowles invented the effective industrial synthesis method of the L-DOPA molecule. This served to make drugs to treat Parkinson's disease, but only when it was synthesized in a given way.
The other two took as their starting point the work of Knowles and applied it to other broader fields of chemistry. Japanese Noyori obtained the type of reaction with other substances and Sharpless applied these methods in oxidation reactions.