Otto Paul Hermann Diels
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1950
Born: 23 January 1876, Hamburg, Germany
Died: 7 March 1954, Kiel, West Germany (now Germany)
Affiliation at the time of the award: Kiel University, Kiel, 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 Otto Diels and Kurt Alder 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.