Richard Martin Willstätter
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1915
Born: 13 August 1872, Karlsruhe, Germany
Died: 3 August 1942, Locarno, Switzerland
Affiliation at the time of the award: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut (now Max-Planck Institut) für Chemie, Berlin-Dahlem, Germany; Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Berlin, Germany
Prize motivation: “for his researches on plant pigments, especially chlorophyll”
Prize share: 1/1
The leaves of green plants derive their color from chlorophyll, which plays a key role in enabling plants to transform water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen with the help of sunlight. From 1906 to 1914 Richard Willstätter researched the chemical composition of chlorophyll. He discovered that the chlorophyll of different plant species is the same, but it is a mixture of two different types, which he produced in pure form. He showed that magnesium is an essential part of chlorophyll’s structure and pointed out chlorophyll’s relationship with the hemoglobin in red blood cells.
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