Born: 27 March 1847, Koenigsberg (now Kaliningrad), Germany (now Russia)
Died: 26 February 1931, Göttingen, Germany
Affiliation at the time of the award: Goettingen University, Göttingen, Germany
Prize motivation: "in recognition of his services to organic chemistry and the chemical industry by his pioneer work in the field of alicyclic compounds."
Prize share: 1/1
Terpenes are a large and varied group of hydrocarbon compounds that exist in many fragrant substances in nature, including turpentine and other essential oils. In the 1880s Otto Wallach surveyed such substances and developed methods for extracting different terpenes from mixtures. He showed that many substances were mixtures of a small number of terpenes and that terpenes can easily be altered and change into each other. Otto Wallach's work became significant within the chemical industry, where essential oils are used in perfume and food.