The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2001
Born: 3 September 1938, Kobe, Japan
Affiliation at the time of the award: Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
Prize motivation: "for their work on chirally catalysed hydrogenation reactions."
Prize share: 1/4
Many molecules appear in two different reversed forms that have different chemical and biological effects. Through special catalysts - substances that facilitate chemical reactions without being consumed in them - it is possible to bring about a process in which only one of the reversed forms is produced. In 1968 Ryoji Noyori developed methods for using catalysts with these properties during hydrogenation - reactions in which hydrogen gas is added to a chemical compound. Among other things, this has enabled production of various types of medication.