The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2007
Born: 10 October 1936, Bad Cannstatt, Germany
Affiliation at the time of the award: Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany
Prize motivation: "for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces."
Prize share: 1/1
Often, chemical reactions are speeded up by surfaces, as in the case when gaseous molecules come in contact with a metal surface. During the 1960s Gerhard Ertl developed a number of methods for studying surface chemical reactions. Among other things, he made use of techniques for producing a very pure vacuum, which had been developed within the semiconductor industry. Gerhard Ertl was able to map out details of a process of great importance in the production of artificial fertilizer: the Haber-Bosch process in which nitrogen in the air is converted to ammonia via an iron catalyst.
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.