Nobel Prize in Chemistry: 1901-Present

The monument for Marie Sklodowska Curie, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences: the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903 (jointly with her husband), and the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1911.
The monument for Marie Sklodowska Curie, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences: the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903 (jointly with her husband), and the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1911. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was the second that Alfred Nobel mentioned in his will establishing the prizes. The first chemistry prize was awarded in 1901. Here is a full list of the winners by year:

2023: Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus, Alexei I. Ekimov, “for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots.” Read more about the quantum dot technology here.

2022: Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless "for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry." Read more about click chemistry here.

2021: Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan "for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis"

2020: Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna, "for the development of of a method for genome editing," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. Read more about the prize and CRISPR technology here.

2019: John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino will share this year's Nobel "for the development of lithium-ion batteries," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

2018: Frances H. Arnold from the California Institute of Technology was awarded one half of the award "for the directed evolution of enzymes." George P. Smith from the University of Missouri and Sir Gregory P. Winter from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the U.K. shared the other half "for the phage display of peptides and antibodies." Read more about how they are harnessing evolution in the lab to benefit humankind.

2017: Jacques Dubochet, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, Joachim Frank, Columbia University, New York, and Richard Henderson, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution," according to Read more about how the trio's achievements transformed how scientists can view and image biomolecules at the atomic level. 

2016: Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines." The trio took chemistry to a new dimension by miniaturizing machines, the Nobel Foundation said.

2015: Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar "for mechanistic studies of DNA repair." 

2014: Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner, for developing light microscopy that could reach the nanodimension to visualize living cells.

2013: Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel, "for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems"

2012: Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka, for figuring out the inner workings of so-called G-protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs).

2011: Don Shechtman, "for the discovery of quasicrystals."

2010: Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki, "for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis."

2009: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz, Ada E. Yonath, "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome."

2008: Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien, "for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP."

2007: Gerhard Ertl, "for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces."

2006: Roger D. Kornberg, "for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription."

2005: Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs and Richard R. Schrock, "for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis."

2004: Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose, "for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation."

2003: Peter Agre, "for discoveries concerning channels in cell membranes," and  Roderick MacKinnon, "for structural and mechanistic studies of ion channels."

2002: John B. Fenn and Koichi Tanaka, "for their development of soft desorption ionisation methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules,"  and Kurt Wüthrich, for his development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution."

2001: William S. Knowles and Ryoji Noyori, "for their work on chirally catalysed hydrogenation reactions," and K. Barry Sharpless, "for his work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions."

2000: Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, "for the discovery and development of conductive polymers."

1999: Ahmed H. Zewail, "for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy."

1998: Walter Kohn, "for his development of the density-functional theory," and John A. Pople, "for his development of computational methods in quantum chemistry."

1997: Paul D. Boyer and John E. Walker, "for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and Jens C. Skou, "for the first discovery of an ion-transporting enzyme, Na+, K+ -ATPase."

1996: Robert F. Curl Jr., Sir Harold W. Kroto and Richard E. Smalley, "for their discovery of fullerenes."

1995: Paul J. Crutzen, Mario J. Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, "for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone."

1994: George A. Olah, "for his contribution to carbocation chemistry."

1993: Kary B. Mullis, "for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method," and Michael Smith, "for his fundamental contributions to the establishment of oligonucleotide-based, site-directed mutagenesis and its development for protein studies."

1992: Rudolph A. Marcus, "for his contributions to the theory of electron transfer reactions in chemical systems."

1991: Richard R. Ernst, "for his contributions to the development of the methodology of high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy."

1990: Elias James Corey, "for his development of the theory and methodology of organic synthesis."

1989: Sidney Altman and Thomas R. Cech, "for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA."

1988: Johann Deisenhofer, Robert Huber and Hartmut Michel, "for the determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction center."

1987: Donald J. Cram, Jean-Marie Lehn and Charles J. Pedersen, "for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity."

1986: Dudley R. Herschbach, Yuan T. Lee and John C. Polanyi, "for their contributions concerning the dynamics of chemical elementary processes."

1985: Herbert A. Hauptman and Jerome Karle, "for their outstanding achievements in the development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structures."

1984: Robert Bruce Merrifield, "for his development of methodology for chemical synthesis on a solid matrix."

1983: Henry Taube, "for his work on the mechanisms of electron transfer reactions, especially in metal complexes."

1982: Aaron Klug, "for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes."

1981: Kenichi Fukui and Roald Hoffmann, "for their theories, developed independently, concerning the course of chemical reactions."

1980: Paul Berg, "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA," and Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger, "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids."

1979: Herbert C. Brown and Georg Wittig, "for their development of the use of boron- and phosphorus-containing compounds, respectively, into important reagents in organic synthesis."

1978: Peter D. Mitchell, "for his contribution to the understanding of biological energy transfer through the formulation of the chemiosmotic theory."

1977: Ilya Prigogine, "for his contributions to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of dissipative structures."

1976: William N. Lipscomb, "for his studies on the structure of boranes illuminating problems of chemical bonding."

1975: John Warcup Cornforth, "for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalyzed reactions," and Vladimir Prelog, "for his research into the stereochemistry of organic molecules and reactions."

1974: Paul J. Flory, "for his fundamental achievements, both theoretical and experimental, in the physical chemistry of the macromolecules."

1973: Ernst Otto Fischer and Geoffrey Wilkinson, "for their pioneering work, performed independently, on the chemistry of the organometallic, so-called sandwich compounds."

1972: Christian B. Anfinsen, "for his work on ribonuclease, especially concerning the connection between the amino acid sequence and the biologically active conformation," and Stanford Moore and William H. Stein, "for their contribution to the understanding of the connection between chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active centre of the ribonuclease molecule."

1971: Gerhard Herzberg, "for his contributions to the knowledge of electronic structure and geometry of molecules, particularly free radicals."

1970: Luis F. Leloir, "for his discovery of sugar nucleotides and their role in the biosynthesis of carbohydrates."

1969: Derek H. R. Barton and Odd Hassel,"for their contributions to the development of the concept of conformation and its application in chemistry."

1968: Lars Onsager, "for the discovery of the reciprocal relations bearing his name, which are fundamental for the thermodynamics of irreversible processes."

1967: Manfred Eigen, "for his studies of extremely fast chemical reactions, effected by disturbing the equlibrium by means of very short pulses of energy," and Ronald George Wreyford Norrish and George Porter, "for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions, effected by disturbing the equlibrium by means of very short pulses of energy."

1966: Robert S. Mulliken, "for his fundamental work concerning chemical bonds and the electronic structure of molecules by the molecular orbital method."

1965: Robert Burns Woodward, "for his outstanding achievements in the art of organic synthesis."

1964: Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, "for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances."

1963: Karl Ziegler and Giulio Natta, "for their discoveries in the field of the chemistry and technology of high polymers."

1962: Max Ferdinand Perutz and John Cowdery Kendrew, "for their studies of the structures of globular proteins."

1961: Melvin Calvin, "for his research on the carbon dioxide assimilation in plants."

1960: Willard Frank Libby, "for his method to use carbon-14 for age determination in archaeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science."

1959: Jaroslav Heyrovsky, "for his discovery and development of the polarographic methods of analysis."

1958: Frederick Sanger, "for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin."

1957: Lord (Alexander R.) Todd, "for his work on nucleotides and nucleotide co-enzymes."

1956: Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood and Nikolay Nikolaevich Semenov, "for their researches into the mechanism of chemical reactions."

1955: Vincent du Vigneaud, "for his work on biochemically important sulphur compounds, especially for the first synthesis of a polypeptide hormone."

1954: Linus Carl Pauling, "for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances."

1953: Hermann Staudinger, "for his discoveries in the field of macromolecular chemistry."

1952: Archer John Porter Martin and Richard Laurence Millington Synge, "for their invention of partition chromatography."

1951: Edwin Mattison McMillan and Glenn Theodore Seaborg, "for their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements."

1950: Otto Paul Hermann Diels and Kurt Alder, "for their discovery and development of the diene synthesis."

1949: William Francis Giauque, "for his contributions in the field of chemical thermodynamics, particularly concerning the behaviour of substances at extremely low temperatures."

1948: Arne Wilhelm Kaurin Tiselius, "for his research on electrophoresis and adsorption analysis, especially for his discoveries concerning the complex nature of the serum proteins."

1947: Sir Robert Robinson, "for his investigations on plant products of biological importance, especially the alkaloids."

1946: James Batcheller Sumner, "for his discovery that enzymes can be crystallized," and John Howard Northrop and Wendell Meredith Stanley, "for their preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form."

1945: Artturi Ilmari Virtanen, "for his research and inventions in agricultural and nutrition chemistry, especially for his fodder preservation method."

1944: Otto Hahn, "for his discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei."

1943: George de Hevesy, "for his work on the use of isotopes as tracers in the study of chemical processes."

1942: No prize awarded

1941: No prize awarded

1940: No prize awarded

1939: Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt, "for his work on sex hormones" and Leopold Ruzicka, "for his work on polymethylenes and higher terpenes."

1938: Richard Kuhn, "for his work on carotenoids and vitamins."

1937: Walter Norman Haworth, "for his investigations on carbohydrates and vitamin C" and Paul Karrer, "for his investigations on carotenoids, flavins and vitamins A and B2."

1936: Petrus (Peter) Josephus Wilhelmus Debye, "for his contributions to our knowledge of molecular structure through his investigations on dipole moments and on the diffraction of X-rays and electrons in gases."

1935: Frédéric Joliot and Irène Joliot-Curie, "in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements."

1934: Harold Clayton Urey, "for his discovery of heavy hydrogen."

1933: No prize awarded

1932: Irving Langmuir, "for his discoveries and investigations in surface chemistry."

1931: Carl Bosch and Friedrich Bergius, "in recognition of their contributions to the invention and development of chemical high pressure methods."

1930: Hans Fischer, "for his researches into the constitution of haemin and chlorophyll and especially for his synthesis of haemin."

1929: Arthur Harden and Hans Karl August Simon von Euler-Chelpin, "for their investigations on the fermentation of sugar and fermentative enzymes."

1928: Adolf Otto Reinhold Windaus, "for the services rendered through his research into the constitution of the sterols and their connection with the vitamins."

1927: Heinrich Otto Wieland, "for his investigations of the constitution of the bile acids and related substances."

1926: The (Theodor) Svedberg, "for his work on disperse systems."

1925: Richard Adolf Zsigmondy, "for his demonstration of the heterogenous nature of colloid solutions and for the methods he used, which have since become fundamental in modern colloid chemistry."

1924: No prize awarded

1923: Fritz Pregl, "for his invention of the method of micro-analysis of organic substances."

1922: Francis William Aston, "for his discovery, by means of his mass spectrograph, of isotopes, in a large number of non-radioactive elements, and for his enunciation of the whole-number rule."

1921: Frederick Soddy, "for his contributions to our knowledge of the chemistry of radioactive substances, and his investigations into the origin and nature of isotopes."

1920: Walther Hermann Nernst, "in recognition of his work in thermochemistry."

1919: No prize awarded

1918: Fritz Haber, "for the synthesis of ammonia from its elements."

1917: No prize awarded

1916: No prize awarded

1915: Richard Martin Willstätter, "for his researches on plant pigments, especially chlorophyll."

1914: Theodore William Richards, "in recognition of his accurate determinations of the atomic weight of a large number of chemical elements."

1913: Alfred Werner, "in recognition of his work on the linkage of atoms in molecules by which he has thrown new light on earlier investigations and opened up new fields of research especially in inorganic chemistry."

1912: Victor Grignard, "for the discovery of the so-called Grignard reagent, which in recent years has greatly advanced the progress of organic chemistry,"  and Paul Sabatier, "for his method of hydrogenating organic compounds in the presence of finely disintegrated metals whereby the progress of organic chemistry has been greatly advanced in recent years."

1911: Marie Curie, née Sklodowska, "in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element."

1910: Otto Wallach, "in recognition of his services to organic chemistry and the chemical industry by his pioneer work in the field of alicyclic compounds."

1909: Wilhelm Ostwald, "in recognition of his work on catalysis and for his investigations into the fundamental principles governing chemical equilibria and rates of reaction."

1908: Ernest Rutherford, "in recognition of his work on catalysis and for his investigations into the fundamental principles governing chemical equilibria and rates of reaction."

1907: Eduard Buchner, "for his biochemical researches and his discovery of cell-free fermentation."

1906: Henri Moissan, "in recognition of the great services rendered by him in his investigation and isolation of the element fluorine, and for the adoption in the service of science of the electric furnace called after him."

1905: Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer, "in recognition of his services in the advancement of organic chemistry and the chemical industry, through his work on organic dyes and hydroaromatic compounds."

1904: Sir William Ramsay, "in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air, and his determination of their place in the periodic system."

1903: Svante August Arrhenius, "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered to the advancement of chemistry by his electrolytic theory of dissociation."

1902: Hermann Emil Fischer, "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by his work on sugar and purine syntheses."

1901: Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff, "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the laws of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions."

Live Science Staff
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