Chemistry Nobel shared by three scientists

Three scientists, Richard Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki, have been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on palladium catalysed cross-coupling.

Chemistry Nobel shared by three scientists

Heck is a US citizen working at the University of Delaware. Negishi is Japanese and employed at Purdue University. Both institutions are located in the US. Suzuki works at Japan’s Hokkaido University in Japan.

The three have won the prize for their work with “palladium-catalyzed cross-couplings in organic synthesis,” according to the citation from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

“I was sleeping,” said Negishi about what he was doing when the call came to inform him of his award.

He continued to field questions from the assembled media and explained that he intended to use the prize to continue work, but adding that one of his greatest goals has now been achieved.

Negishi confirmed that he planned to come to Stockholm to collect the prize “by all means.”

Describing the scientists’ work as “great art in a test tube,” the academy explained that the prize has this year been awarded to “one of the most sophisticated tools available to chemists today.”

“The development of palladium-catalysed cross coupling is a chemical tool which has vastly improved the possibilities for chemists to create sophisticated chemicals, for example carbon-based molecules as complex as those created by nature itself,” the academy explained in a statement.

In order to create complex chemicals, chemists need to be able to join carbon atoms together and the Palladium-catalysed cross coupling method allows them to this while avoiding the problems of excess unwanted by-products.

“Palladium-catalysed cross coupling is used in research worldwide, as well as in the commercial production of for example pharmaceuticals and molecules used in the electronics industry,” the academy explained.

It was confirmed at the press conference that all three scientists have pledged to come to Stockholm to receive their prize despite their advanced age.

Nobel Week continues on Thursday with the announcement of the Literature Prize winner and on Friday it will be known who has won the Peace Prize.

Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona entered the debate on Wednesday, suggesting in a letter to Norwegian parliament that the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo should be awarded the prize.

The ex-Argentina coach praised the organisation for “its steadfast, peaceful and courageous fight for redress for the families whose children were kidnapped by the state terrorists.” The group was founded in 1976 to find children who disappeared during the 1976 to 1983 military junta.

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