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US-French trio bags chemistry Nobel

France's Yves Chauvin and Americans Robert Grubbs and Richard Schrock have won the 2005 prize.

india Updated: Oct 05, 2005 17:23 IST

France's Yves Chauvin and Americans Robert H Grubbs and Richard R Schrock won the 2005 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday, for their work to reduce hazardous waste in forming new chemicals.

The trio won the award for their development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis-- which focuses on how chemical bonds are broken and made between carbon atoms, and which the Nobel Prize committee likened to a dance in which the couples change partners.

Metathesis has tremendous commercial potential in the pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and foodstuffs production industries. It is also used in the development of revolutionary polymers. The process is used "daily in the chemical industry, mainly in the development of pharmaceuticals and advanced plastic materials."

"This represents a great step forward for 'green chemistry,' reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production. Metathesis is an example of how important basic science has been applied for the benefit of man, society and the environment," the committee said.

Chauvin, 74, is the honorary director of research at the Institut Francais du Petrole in Rueil-Malmaison, near Paris. Chauvin is the first Frenchman to win a Nobel Prize since Claude Cohen-Tannoudji won the physics prize in 1997, and joins his famous counterparts Pierre and Marie Curie who shared the 1903 physics prize Antoine Henri Becquerel.

Grubbs, 63, is a professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, and Schrock is a chemistry professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The three men share the 10 million-kronor (euro1 million; $1.3 million) award, which will be presented December 10 in the Swedish capital.

On Tuesday, Americans John L Hall and Roy J Glauber and German Theodor W Haensch won the 2005 Nobel Prize in physics for their work in advancing the precision of optic technology, which could improve communication worldwide and help spacecraft navigate more accurately to the stars.

The prize was given to the three for their work in applying modern quantum physics to the study of optics-- a pursuit that has led to the improvement of lasers, optical clocks, GPS technology and other instruments.

On Monday, Australians Barry J Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for proving, partly by accident, that bacteria and not stress was the main cause of painful ulcers of the stomach and intestine.

The award for peace will be announced on Friday in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. The economics prize, the only one not named in Nobel's will, will be announced on October 10.

So far, the Swedish Academy, which awards the literature prize, has not yet set a date for its announcement, meaning the award could be announced next week.

First Published: Oct 05, 2005 16:08 IST