Nikolay Nikolaevich Semenov
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1956
Born: 3 April 1896, Saratov, Russia
Died: 25 September 1986, Moscow, USSR
Affiliation at the time of the award: Institute for Chemical Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow, USSR
Prize motivation: "for their researches into the mechanism of chemical reactions."
Prize share: 1/2
During chemical reactions, atoms and molecules regroup and form new constellations. When molecules formed during a reaction readily react with molecules present from the beginning, a chain reaction can occur. Explosions and fire are examples of chain reactions. During the 1930s Nikolay Semenov analyzed conditions and sequences of events involved in chain reactions from a theoretical and mathematical standpoint. Among other things, he found that the theoretical results corresponded with observations of the reactions between phosporus and oxygen and between hydrogen and oxygen.
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.