Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
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, Federal Republic of 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 Hartmut Michel succeeded in crystallizing these types of proteins. The following year he, along with Johann Deisenhofer and Robert Huber, determined the structure for the photosynthetic reaction center.
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.