A nobel synthesis

Evonik Degussa GmbH, Rodenbacher Chaussee 4, Hanau-Wolfgang, 63457, Germany

The first Nobel Prize for chemistry wasawarded in 1901 (to Jacobus van’t Hoff).Up to 2010, the chemistry prize has beenawarded 102 times, to 160 laureates, of whomonly four have been women (1). The mostprominent area for awarding the Nobel Prizefor chemistry has been in organic chemistry, inwhich the Nobel committee includes naturalproducts, synthesis, catalysis, and polymers.This amounts to 24 of the prizes. Reading theachievements of the earlier organic chemistswho were recipients of the prize, we see thatthey were drawn to synthesis by the structuralanalysis and characterisation of naturalcompounds. In order to prove the structure conclusively, somesynthesis, even if only a partial synthesis, had to be attempted. It isimpressive to read of some of the structures which were deducedusing only classical degradation and synthesis reactions, for allthis work dates from an age before the everyday application ofspectroscopic analysis. ...