Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Charles J. Pedersen
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1987
Born: 3 October 1904, Pusan, Korea (now South Korea)
Died: 26 October 1989, Salem, NJ, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Du Pont, Wilmington, DE, USA
Prize motivation: "for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity."
Prize share: 1/3
Chemical reactions often occur through the influence of molecules that have cavities and pockets where other atoms and molecules can be attached to then join with other molecules. In 1967 Charles Pedersen discovered crown ethers, a family of ring-shaped molecules that have the ability to bind certain metallic atoms in the middle of the ring. The metallic atoms can then be released in organic compounds, something that had been difficult before. This opened up possibilities for bringing about chemical reactions in laboratories and creating chemical compounds.
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.