The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1963
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.