Gerhard Ertl


Gerhard Ertl

© The Nobel Foundation. Photo: U. Montan

Gerhard Ertl
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. 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.

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