The trio won the award for their development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis — a way to rearrange groups of atoms within molecules that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences likened to a dance in which couples change partners.
The process is used daily in the chemical, biotechnology and food industries to make stronger plastics, better drugs and improved food preservatives.
“This represents a great step forward for ‘green chemistry,’ reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production. Metathesis is an example of how important basic science has been applied for the benefit of man, society and the environment,” the committee said.
But how sad and sweet is this?
“It took 30 years of laboratory work to show that what I found was interesting. Today I live alone and my first thoughts go to my wife who passed away barely a year ago,” [Chauvin] said.