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Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2002
John B. Fenn, Koichi Tanaka, Kurt Wüthrich

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Koichi Tanaka - Facts

Koichi Tanaka

Koichi Tanaka

Born: 3 August 1959, Toyama City, Japan

Affiliation at the time of the award: Shimadzu Corp., Kyoto, Japan

Prize motivation: "for their development of soft desorption ionisation methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules"

Field: physical chemical methodology

Prize share: 1/4

Work

When electrically charged molecules - ions - are accelerated by an electrical field, their speed depends on the ion's charge and weight. By measuring the time it takes for the ions to pass a certain distance, the incidence of different molecules in a test can be determined. It was impossible, however, to use this technique on large molecules, such as proteins, before large ions could be produced in gaseous form. In 1987 Koichiro Tanaka showed that laser pulses could blast apart protein molecules so that ions in gaseous form are produced.

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