Technology & Science

German wins Nobel Prize for chemical reactions research

Gerhard Ertl of Germany won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for studies of chemical reactions on solid surfaces, research that has advanced the understanding of why the ozone layer is thinning.

Gerhard Ertl of Germany won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for studies of chemical reactions on solid surfaces, research that has advanced the understanding of why the ozone layer is thinning.

Gerhard Ertl addresses journalists Wednesday at the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin after learning he won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. ((Markus Schreiber/Associated Press))

Ertl's research, starting in the 1960s, also has helped explain how fuel cells work, how catalytic converters clean up exhaust in cars and even why iron rusts, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

"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 award citation said.

Americans Mario R. Capecchi and Oliver Smithies and Briton Martin J. Evans won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine on Monday for groundbreaking discoveries that led to a powerful technique for manipulating mouse genes.

On Tuesday, France's Albert Fert and German Peter Gruenberg won the physics award for discovering a phenomenon that lets computers and digital music players store reams of data on ever-shrinking hard disks.

Prizes for literature, peace and economics will be announced through Oct. 15.

The awardsare each worth $1.5 million,and all but the peace prizewill be handed out by Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10. The Nobel Peace Prizeis conferred the same day butin Oslo.

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