The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1969
Born: 17 May 1897, Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway
Died: 11 May 1981, Oslo, Norway
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Prize motivation: “for their contributions to the development of the concept of conformation and its application in chemistry”
Prize share: 1/2
In nature organisms are composed of an enormously varied number of chemical compounds, with the element carbon as a common component. The binding energy between atoms in carbon compounds determines their structure, but the structures are not completely rigid. They are flexible to a certain degree. Consequently, molecules can assume different conformations, which has ramifications for their way of reacting with other substances. At the end of the 1940s, Odd Hassel published pioneering works about different conformations for ring-shaped molecules with six carbon atoms.