Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1979
Born: 16 June 1897, Berlin, Germany
Died: 26 August 1987, Heidelberg, West Germany (now Germany)
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany
Prize motivation: "for their development of the use of boron- and phosphorus-containing compounds, respectively, into important reagents in organic synthesis."
Prize share: 1/2
During chemical reactions, molecules composed of atoms meet and form new compounds. Through chemical reactions, it is possible to synthesize chemical compounds in laboratories with molecules that do not exist in nature. In 1953 Georg Wittig discovered a reaction between a phosphorous carbon compound and another carbon compound that resulted in formation of a carbon compound with a least one double bond between carbon atoms. Among other things, biologically active compounds can be formed. For example, vitamin A can be produced by artificial means with the help of this reaction.
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.