The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1950
Born: 10 July 1902, Königshütte (now Chorzów), Prussia (now Poland)
Died: 20 June 1958, Cologne, West Germany (now Germany)
Affiliation at the time of the award: Cologne University, Cologne, Federal Republic of Germany
Prize motivation: "for their discovery and development of the diene synthesis."
Prize share: 1/2
The element carbon is the component in a large and varied family of chemical compounds - organic compounds. Diens are compounds of carbon and hydrogen that contain two double bonds, i.e., where two carbon atoms share two pairs of paired electrons. In 1928 Kurt Alder and Otto Diels discovered a reaction in which one dien was changed into a ring-shaped molecule with six carbon atoms. The reaction became very significant within the chemical industry. For example, it served as a link in the production of plastic and synthetic rubber.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.