The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1988
Born: 18 July 1948, Ludwigsburg, West Germany (now Germany)
Affiliation at the time of the award: Max-Planck-Institut für Biophysik, Frankfurt-on-the-Main, Germany
Prize motivation: “for the determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction centre”
Prize share: 1/3
One of the most fundamental processes of life is photosynthesis, which uses energy from sunlight to make carbohydrates out of water and carbon dioxide. Hartmut Michel studied a bacterium that performs photosynthesis like green plants. The energy conversion takes place through the transportation of electrons via a number of proteins that are attached to special membranes in the cell. In 1982 Michel succeeded in crystallizing these types of proteins. The follow year he, along with Johann Deisenhofer and Robert Huber, determined the structure for the photosynthetic reaction center.