The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded to two scientists, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Wednesday.
The Swedish institute has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year to German scientist Benjamin List and Scotland-born scientist David WC MacMillan of Princeton University, "for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis," according to Xinhua news agency.
In the telephone interview onsite, List said "unexpected! You really made my day!" He said of the moment hearing about the news "hard to describe, it's a special moment I will never forget!"
List and MacMillan are awarded for "their development of a precise new tool for molecular construction: organocatalysis," read a press release from the academy. "This has had a great impact on pharmaceutical research, and has made chemistry greener."
In 2000 they, independent of each other, developed a third type of catalysis. It is called asymmetric organocatalysis and builds upon small organic molecules, the release said.
"This concept for catalysis is as simple as it is ingenious, and the fact is that many people have wondered why we didn't think of it earlier," said Johan Aqvist, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.
List, born in 1968 in Frankfurt, Germany, had his PhD in 1997 from Goethe University Frankfurt. He is now director of the country's Max Planck Institute for Coal Research.
MacMillan, also born in 1968 in Bellshill, Britain, had his PhD in 1996 from University of California, Irvine, the United States.
This year's prize amount is 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.13 million), to be shared equally between the laureates.