Born: 14 July 1921, Todmorden, United Kingdom
Died: 26 September 1996, London, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for their pioneering work, performed independently, on the chemistry of the organometallic, so called sandwich compounds"
Field: inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry
Prize share: 1/2
The world around us is made up of atoms that are assembled in molecules. Even though there is an enormous number of molecules in nature, it is possible to synthesize molecules in the laboratory that are not found in nature. In 1952 Geoffrey Wilkinson and Ernst Otto Fischer, working independently of one another, revealed a new type of chemical compound consisting of a carbon compound and a metallic atom. In these sandwich structures, which do not exist in nature, two ring-shaped carbon compounds enclose a metallic atom on each side.