John C. Polanyi


John C. Polanyi

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

John C. Polanyi
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1986

Born: 23 January 1929, Berlin, Germany

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Prize motivation: “for their contributions concerning the dynamics of chemical elementary processes”

Prize share: 1/3


Chemical reactions in which molecules comprised of atoms collide and form new compounds represent one of nature’s fundamental processes. At the end of the 1950s John Polanyi began developing methods to carefully study the dynamics of chemical reactions. During chemical reactions, the newly formed molecules are sometimes infused with energy that then is emitted in the form of infrared light. By measuring this very weak radiation, the quantum mechanical energy state of the molecules can be determined and the reaction mapped.

To cite this section
MLA style: John C. Polanyi – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Thu. 25 Jul 2024. <>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.