Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Born: 26 February 1903, Imperia, Italy
Died: 2 May 1979, Bergamo, Italy
Affiliation at the time of the award: Institute of Technology, Milan, Italy
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries in the field of the chemistry and technology of high polymers."
Prize share: 1/2
Synthetic materials like plastics are common in today's world. Plastic consists of very large molecules comprised of long chains of smaller molecules. After Karl Ziegler developed a method for creating these molecular chains using catalysts - substances that hasten the chemical process without affecting the end-products - Giulio Natta developed it further. In 1955 he discovered a catalyst that formed molecular chains with their parts oriented in certain directions. This made it possible to produce rubbery and textile-like materials.
See the list of all Nobel Prizes, awarded for "the greatest benefit to mankind."
In his will, Alfred Nobel left 31 million SEK to found the Nobel Prizes.
Medicine Laureate Shinya Yamanaka talks about the importance of taking risks.