Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry from 1901 to the Present

Jacobus van't Hoff won the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1901.
Jacobus van't Hoff won the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1901.

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist and the inventor of dynamite. Nobel recognized the destructive power of dynamite, but hoped that such power would lead to an end to warfare. However, dynamite was quickly exploited to develop newer, more deadly weapons. Not wanting to be remembered as the "merchant of death", an epitaph given him by a French newspaper in a mistaken obituary, Nobel wrote his will such that it would establish prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace to "those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind." A sixth category, economics, was added in 1969.

It took some time to implement Nobel's wishes. The first Nobel prize was awarded in 1901, which was five years after Alfred Nobel's death. Note that the Nobel prize can only be won by individuals, there can be no more than three winners in a given year, and money is split equally between multiple winners. Each winner gets a gold medal, a sum of money, and a diploma.

Here is the list of the Nobel laureates in Chemistry:


Nobel Prize in Chemistry

1901Jacobus H. van't HoffNetherlandsDiscovered laws of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions
1902Emil Hermann FischerGermanySynthetic studies of sugar and purine groups
1903Svante A. ArrheniusSwedenTheory of electrolytic dissociation
1904Sir William RamsayGreat BritainDiscovered the noble gases
1905Adolf von BaeyerGermanyOrganic dyes and hydroaromatic compounds
1906Henri MoissanFranceStudied and isolated the element fluorine
1907Eduard BuchnerGermanyBiochemical studies, discovered fermentation without cells
1908Sir Ernest RutherfordGreat BritainDecay of the elements, chemistry of radioactive substances
1909Wilhelm OstwaldGermanyCatalysis, chemical equilibria, and reaction rates
1910Otto WallachGermanyAlicyclic compounds
1911Marie CuriePoland-FranceDiscovered radium and polonium
1912Victor Grignard
Paul Sabatier
Grignard's reagent
Hydrogenation of organic compounds in the presence of finely divided metals
1913Alfred WernerSwitzerlandBonding relations of atoms in molecules (inorganic chemistry)
1914Theodore W. RichardsUnited StatesDetermined atomic weights
1915Richard M. WillstätterGermanyInvestigated plant pigments, particularly chlorophyll
1916  The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1917  The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1918Fritz HaberGermanySynthesized ammonia from its elements
1919  The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1920Walther H. NernstGermanyStudies on thermodynamics
1921Frederick SoddyGreat BritainChemistry of radioactive substances, occurrence and nature of the isotopes
1922Francis William AstonGreat BritainDiscovered several isotopes, mass spectrograph
1923Fritz PreglAustriaMicroanalysis of organic compounds
1924  The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1925Richard A. ZsigmondyGermany, AustriaColloid chemistry (ultramicroscope)
1926Theodor SvedbergSwedenDisperse systems (ultracentrifuge)
1927Heinrich O. WielandGermanyConstitution of bile acids
1928Adolf Otto Reinhold WindausGermanyStudy of sterols and their relation with vitamins (vitamin D)
1929Sir Arthur Harden
Hans von Euler-Chelpin
Great Britain
Sweden, Germany
Studied fermentation of sugars and enzymes
1930Hans FischerGermanyStudied blood and plant pigments, synthesized hemin
1931Friedrich Bergius
Karl Bosch
Developed chemical high-pressure processes
1932Irving LangmuirUnited StatesSurface chemistry
1933  The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1934Harold Clayton UreyUnited StatesDiscovery of heavy hydrogen (deuterium)
1935Frederic Joliot-Curie
Iréne Joliot-Curie
Syntheses of new radioactive elements (artificial radioactivity)
1936Peter J. W. DebyeNetherlands, GermanyStudied dipole moments and the diffraction of X rays and electron beams by gases
1937Walter N. Haworth
Paul Karrer
Great Britain
Studied carbohydrates and vitamin C
Studied carotenoids and flavins and vitamins A and B2
1938Richard KuhnGermanyStudied carotenoids and vitamins
1939Adolf F. J. Butenandt
Lavoslav Stjepan Ružička
Studies on sexual hormones
Studied polymethylenes and higher terpenes
1940  The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1941  The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1942  The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
1943Georg de HevesyHungaryApplication of isotopes as indicators in the investigation of chemical processes
1944Otto HahnGermanyDiscovered nuclear fission of atoms
1945Artturi Ilmari VirtanenFinlandDiscoveries in the area of agricultural and food chemistry, method of preservation of fodder
1946James B. Sumner
John H. Northrop
Wendell M. Stanley
United States
United States
United States
Prepared enzymes and virus proteins in pure form
Crystallizability of enzymes
1947Sir Robert RobinsonGreat BritainStudied alkaloids
1948Arne W. K. TiseliusSwedenAnalysis using electrophoresis and adsorption, discoveries concerning serum proteins
1949William F. GiauqueUnited StatesContributions to chemical thermodynamics, properties at extremely low temperatures (adiabatic demagnetization)
1950Kurt Alder
Otto P. H. Diels
Developed diene synthesis
1951Edwin M. McMillan
Glenn T. Seaborg
United States
United States
Discoveries in the chemistry of transuranium elements
1952Archer J. P. Martin
Richard L. M. Synge
Great Britain
Great Britain
Invented distribution chromatography
1953Hermann StaudingerGermanyDiscoveries in the area of macromolecular chemistry
1954Linus C. PaulingUnited StatesStudied the nature of the chemical bond (molecular structure of proteins)
1955Vincent du VigneaudUnited StatesSynthesized a polypeptide hormone
1956Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood
Nikolai N. Semenov
Great Britain
Soviet Union
Mechanisms of chemical reactions
1957Sir Alexander R. ToddGreat BritainStudied nucleotides and their coenzymes
1958Frederick SangerGreat BritainStructure of proteins, especially insulin
1959Jaroslav HeyrovskýCzech RepublicPolarography
1960Willard F. LibbyUnited StatesApplication of carbon 14 for age determinations (radiocarbon dating)
1961Melvin CalvinUnited StatesStudied the assimilation of carbonic acid by plants (photosynthesis)
1962John C. Kendrew
Max F. Perutz
Great Britain
Great Britain, Austria
Studied the structures of globulin proteins
1963Giulio Natta
Karl Ziegler
Chemistry and technology of high polymers
1964Dorothy Mary Crowfoot HodgkinGreat BritainStructure determination of biologically important substances by means of X rays
1965Robert B. WoodwardUnited StatesSyntheses of natural products
1966Robert S. MullikenUnited StatesStudied chemical bonds and the electron structure of molecules using the orbital method
1967Manfred Eigen
Ronald G. W. Norrish
George Porter
Great Britain
Great Britain
Investigated extremely fast chemical reactions
1968Lars OnsagerUnited States, NorwayStudied the thermodynamics of irreversible processes
1969Derek H. R. Barton
Odd Hassel
Great Britain
Development of the concept of conformation
1970Luis F. LeloirArgentinaDiscovery of sugar nucleotides and their role in the biosynthesis of carbohydrates
1971Gerhard HerzbergCanadaElectron structure and geometry of molecules, particularly of free radicals (molecular spectroscopy)
1972Christian B. Anfinsen
Stanford Moore
William H. Stein
United States
United States
United States
Studied ribonuclease (Anfinsen)
Studied the active center of ribonuclease (Moore & Stein)
1973Ernst Otto Fischer
Geoffrey Wilkinson
Great Britain
Chemistry of metal-organic sandwich compounds
1974Paul J. FloryUnited StatesPhysical chemistry of macromolecules
1975John Cornforth
Vladimir Prelog
Australia - Great Britain
Yugoslavia - Switzerland
Stereochemistry of enzyme catalysis reactions
Studied the stereochemistry of organic molecules and reactions
1976William N. LipscombUnited StatesStructure of boranes
1977Ilya PrigogineBelgiumContributions to the thermodynamics of irreversible processes, particularly to the theory of dissipative structures
1978Peter MitchellGreat BritainStudied biological energy transfer, development of the chemiosmotic theory
1979Herbert C. Brown
Georg Wittig
United States
Development of (organic) boron and phosphorous compounds
1980Paul Berg
Walter Gilbert
Frederick Sanger
United States
United States
Great Britain
Studied the biochemistry of nucleic acids, particularly hybrid DNA (technology of gene surgery) (Berg)
Determined base sequences in nucleic acids (Gilbert & Sanger)
1981Kenichi Fukui
Roald Hoffmann
United States
Theories on the progress of chemical reactions (frontier orbital theory)
1982Aaron KlugSouth AfricaDeveloped crystallographic methods for the elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid protein complexes
1983Henry TaubeCanadaReaction mechanisms of electron transfer, especially with metal complexes
1984Robert Bruce MerrifieldUnited StatesMethod for the preparation of peptides and proteins
1985Herbert A. Hauptman
Jerome Karle
United States
United States
Developed direct methods for the determination of crystal structures
1986Dudley R. Herschbach
Yuan T. Lee
John C. Polanyi
United States
United States
Dynamics of chemical elementary processes
1987Donald James Cram
Charles J. Pedersen
Jean-Marie Lehn
United States
United States
Development of molecules with structurally specific interaction of high selectivity
1988Johann Deisenhofer
Robert Huber
Hartmut Michel
Determined the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction center
1989Thomas Robert Cech
Sidney Altman
United States
United States
Discovered the catalytic properties of ribonucleic acid (RNA)
1990Elias James CoreyUnited StatesDeveloped novel methods for the synthesis of complex natural compounds (retrosynthetic analysis)
1991Richard R. ErnstSwitzerlandDeveloped high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR)
1992Rudolph A. MarcusCanada - United StatesTheories of electron transfer
1993Kary B. Mullis
Michael Smith
United States
Great Britain - Canada
Invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
Development of site specific mutagenesis
1994George A. OlahUnited StatesCarbocations
1995Paul Crutzen
Mario Molina
F. Sherwood Rowland
Mexico - United States
United States
Work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone
1996Harold W. Kroto
Robert F. Curl, Jr.
Richard E. Smalley
Great Britain
United States
United States
Discovered fullerenes
1997Paul Delos Boyer
John E. Walker
Jens C. Skou
United States
Great Britain
Elucidated the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
first discovery of an ion-transporting enzyme, Na+, K+-ATPase
1998Walter Kohn
John A. Pople
United States
Great Britain
Development of the density-functional theory (Kohn)
Development of computational methods in quantum chemistry (GAUSSIAN computer programs) (Pope)
1999Ahmed H. ZewailEgypt - United StatesStudied the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy
2000Alan J. Heeger
Alan G. MacDiarmid
Hideki Shirakawa
United States
United States
Discovered and developed conductive polymers
2001William S. Knowles
Ryoji Noyori
Karl Barry Sharpless
United States
United States

Work on chirally catalysed hydrogenation reactions (Knowles & Noyori)
Work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions (Sharpless)
2002John Bennett Fenn
Jokichi Takamine
Kurt Wüthrich
United States
Developed soft desorption ionisation methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules (Fenn & Tanaka)
Developed nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution (Wüthrich)
2003Peter Agre
Roderick MacKinnon
United States
United States
Discovered water channels for transport of water in cell membranes
Performed structural and mechanistic studies of ion channels in cells
2004Aaron Ciechanover
Avaram Hershko
Irwin Rose
United States
Discovered and elucidated the process of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation
2005Yves Chauvin
Robert H. Grubbs
Richard R. Schrock
United States
United States
Developed the metathesis method of organic synthesis, allowing for advances in 'green' chemistry
2006Roger D. KornbergUnited States"for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription"
2007Gerhard ErtlGermany"for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces"
2008Shimomura Osamu
Martin Chalfie
Roger Y. Tsien
United States"for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP"
2009Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
Thomas A. Steitz
Ada E. Yonath
United Kingdom
United States
"for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome"
2010Ei-ichi Negishi
Akira Suzuki
Richard Heck
United States
"for the development of palladium-catalyzed cross coupling"
2011Daniel ShechtmanIsrael"for the discovery of quasi-crystals"
2012Robert Lefkowitz and Brian KobilkaUnited States"for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors"
2013Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, Arieh WarshelUnited States"for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems"
2014Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell, William E. Moerner (USA)United States, Germany, United States“for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”
2016Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Bernard L. FeringaFrance, United States, Netherlands“for the design and synthesis of molecular machines”