Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2007 awarded to Professor Gerhard Ertl for groundbreaking studies in surface chemistry

The Nobel Prize in Chem­istry for 2007 was award­ed for ground­break­ing stud­ies in sur­face chem­istry. The Award acknowl­edges the impact of Pro­fes­sor Ertl’s catal­y­sis relat­ed work upon the semi­con­duc­tor indus­try. Ger­hard Ertl has found­ed an exper­i­men­tal school of thought by show­ing how reli­able results can be attained in this dif­fi­cult area of research. His insights have pro­vid­ed the sci­en­tif­ic basis of mod­ern sur­face chem­istry, espe­cial­ly applied to catal­y­sis: his method­ol­o­gy is used in both aca­d­e­m­ic research and the indus­tri­al devel­op­ment of chem­i­cal process­es. The approach devel­oped by Ertl is based not least on his stud­ies of the Haber-Bosch process, in which nitro­gen is extract­ed from the air for inclu­sion in arti­fi­cial fer­til­iz­ers. This reac­tion, which func­tions using an iron sur­face as its cat­a­lyst, has enor­mous eco­nom­ic sig­nif­i­cance because the avail­abil­i­ty of nitro­gen for grow­ing plants is often restrict­ed. Ertl has also stud­ied the oxi­da­tion of car­bon monox­ide on plat­inum, a reac­tion that takes place in the cat­a­lyst of cars to clean exhaust emis­sions.
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