Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Expert On Surface Chemical Reactions Wins 2007 Nobel Prize In Chemistry

Date:
October 10, 2007
Source:
Nobel Foundation
Summary:
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Gerhard Ertl of Germany's Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces. The work is important for the chemical industry and can further understanding of such varied processes as why iron rusts, how fuel cells function and how the catalysts in our cars work.

The science of surface chemistry is vital to industry, helping us understand processes such as why iron rusts, for example.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jorgen Udvang

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2007 to Gerhard Ertl of the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany, “for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces.”

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2007 is awarded for groundbreaking studies in surface chemistry. This science is important for the chemical industry and can help us to understand such varied processes as why iron rusts, how fuel cells function and how the catalysts in our cars work.

Chemical reactions on catalytic surfaces play a vital role in many industrial operations, such as the production of artificial fertilizers. Surface chemistry can even explain the destruction of the ozone layer, as vital steps in the reaction actually take place on the surfaces of small crystals of ice in the stratosphere. The semiconductor industry is yet another area that depends on knowledge of surface chemistry.

It was thanks to processes developed in the semiconductor industry that the modern science of surface chemistry began to emerge in the 1960s. Gerhard Ertl was one of the first to see the potential of these new techniques. Step by step he has created a methodology for surface chemistry by demonstrating how different experimental procedures can be used to provide a complete picture of a surface reaction.

This science requires advanced high-vacuum experimental equipment as the aim is to observe how individual layers of atoms and molecules behave on the extremely pure surface of a metal, for instance. It must therefore be possible to determine exactly which element is admitted to the system. Contamination could jeopardize all the measurements. Acquiring a complete picture of the reaction requires great precision and a combination of many different experimental techniques.

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: 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.

Gerhard Ertl is a German citizen. Born 1936 in Bad Cannstadt, Germany, he received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1965, from Technische Universitδt Mόnchen, Germany. He is Professor Emeritus at Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Nobel Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Nobel Foundation. "Expert On Surface Chemical Reactions Wins 2007 Nobel Prize In Chemistry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071010080341.htm>.
Nobel Foundation. (2007, October 10). Expert On Surface Chemical Reactions Wins 2007 Nobel Prize In Chemistry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071010080341.htm
Nobel Foundation. "Expert On Surface Chemical Reactions Wins 2007 Nobel Prize In Chemistry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071010080341.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) — Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins