Nobel Prize Chemistry: Building Blocks for Molecules – Spectrum of Science

It all basically started when Barry Sharpless had something to complain about in 2001. And not because he received his first Nobel Prize in chemistry that year. But because, from his point of view, there was a lack of suitable methods in his field. It speaks for him that he didn’t just complain. Instead, he laid the foundation for a new, extremely efficient type of chemical reaction. For their development and implementation, he has now been awarded his second Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with the Dane Morten Meldal and the American Carolyn R. Bertozzi. Sharpless is the second, after chemist Frederik Sanger, to have received the award twice.

Sharpless criticized the fact that organic chemistry is based on nature as a model for the production of molecules. However, their synthesis principle, which focuses on a so-called carbonyl group as a molecular building block, is unsuitable for quickly creating new substances with the desired properties. »With a few billion years and one planet, nature had plenty of time and material at its disposal. However, we chemists are not in this fortunate position, not least because we are tied to human existence,” he wrote together with his colleagues M. G. Finn and Hartmuth C. Kolb in the journal Angewandte Chemie. With the paper, the three coined the term click chemistry for their new type of reactions.

Here, the scientists had a very practical problem in mind…

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