Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Peter D. Mitchell
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1978
Born: 29 September 1920, Mitcham, United Kingdom
Died: 10 April 1992, Bodmin, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: Glynn Research Laboratories, Bodmin, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for his contribution to the understanding of biological energy transfer through the formulation of the chemiosmotic theory."
Prize share: 1/1
All life requires energy. In both plants and animals, energy is stored and transported by the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule. When an ATP molecule emits a phosphate group and forms ADP (adenosine diphosphate), energy is released. Details about how ATP is built up and broken down were unclear when Peter Mitchell presented his theory in 1961. It states that the basis for the process is a flow of electrons and hydrogen ions through membranes in the mitochondria of cells because of differences in electrical potential. The process is governed by indirect interaction between enzymes.