Skip to main content

2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry


Ei-ichi Negishi
Purdue University Professor Organic Chemistry

A Purdue University chemist will share the Nobel Prize in chemistry for creating a method to build complex organic molecules necessary for numerous purposes, from pharmaceutical manufacturing to electronics.

Ei-ichi Negishi, the Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Organic Chemistry, was a co-recipient of the prize with scientists Richard Heck of the University of Delaware in Newark and Akira Suzuki of Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. They will share the $1.5 million award.

Purdue President France A. Córdova said the university was proud that Negishi and his work were recognized by the Nobel Prize committee.

"Ei-ichi Negishi's work in organic molecules is groundbreaking and inspiring, especially in its application for improving medicines and impacting lives," Córdova said. "We are very proud that he has been bestowed with this highest honor. We congratulate professor Negishi and celebrate this great accomplishment."

Negishi developed metal-based reactions, called palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling, that allow for easy and efficient synthesis of complex organic compounds. Examples of applications include drug manufacturing, fluorescent marking that has been essential for DNA sequencing and creating materials for thin LED displays.

He discovered catalytic reactions using a number of transition metals that allow various organic compounds to be synthesized widely, efficiently and selectively for use in fields ranging from medicine to materials development. His work has resulted in dramatically reducing the cost of using such metals, like palladium, in the synthesis.

"Catalysts are not lost as they spur a chemical reaction, they are recycled and can be used over and over again," he said. "These transition metals are very expensive, but when they can be used millions to billions of times, it dramatically reduces the cost and makes the mass manufacturing of special, complex materials practical."

Read full story.