2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry


    In Context

    • The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Benjamin List and David W C MacMillan “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis”.

    What is Organocatalysis?

    • Catalysis:
      • It is the process of increasing the rate of a chemical reaction by adding a catalyst.
      • The major types of catalysts are metals and enzymes.
    • Catalyst:
      • A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without taking part in the reaction, or without undergoing any changes during the chemical reaction.
    • Organocatalysis: 
      • Organocatalysis describes the acceleration of chemical reactions through the addition of a substoichiometric quantity of an organic compound.
    • Working of Organocatalysis:
      • Organocatalysts bind to the reacting molecules to form short-lived intermediates that are more reactive than the substrate molecules on their own. 
      • Being chiral(a type of molecule that has a non-superimposable mirror image), the catalyst transfers its handedness to the substrate, controlling which side of the intermediate can react further.

    Image Courtesy: Nobelprize.org

    • Applications of organocatalysis:
      • It has several applications in pharmaceutical research and other industries.
      • It has helped streamline the production of existing pharmaceuticals, including paroxetine, used to treat anxiety and depression, and oseltamivir, a respiratory infection medication.

    Source: IE