The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2001     

Pioneering work

William S. Knowles
St Louis, Missouri, USA

In 1968 William S. Knowles discovered that the metal rhodium can be used in a chiral molecule to catalyse asymmetric hydrogenation reactions. Hydrogenation is the addition of hydrogen atoms in H2 to the carbon atoms in a double bond.

Knowles quickly developed an industrial synthesis of the amino acid L-DOPA, which has proved to be useful in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. This was the first industrial catalytic asymmetric synthesis. It has been followed by many others.


Based on materials from the 2001 Nobel Poster for Chemistry

Web Adapted Version of the Nobel Poster from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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