Feeds

Chemistry Nobel awarded to semiconductor boffin

While Doris Lessing scoops literature gong

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The Nobel prize for chemistry has been awarded to Gerhard Ertl, now based at Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Berlin, for his work in establishing a fundamental experimental approach to surface chemistry.

His experiments laid the foundations, quite literally, for the development of catalytic converters. He also contributed to our understanding of the Haber-Bosch process, which removes nitrogen from the air so that it can be added to fertilisers.

Ertl started his career in the semiconductor industry, where he became interested in surface chemistry. He went on to develop a methodology for the science, showing how different procedures could be used to build up a complete and reliable picture of surface chemistry.

The difficulty with experimenting in surface chemistry is keeping track of the atoms and molecules on the boundary between the surface and the environment. Work must be done in a vacuum, lest the atoms you want to watch be contaminated by anything else. Working out exactly what has and has not been allowed into an experimental system is the key, and requires a combination of techniques. This is where Ertl's work was so vital.

As well as the practical, Ertl's work has shed light on some fundamental processes, such as why (and how) iron rusts. His techniques have even helped to understand the process that destroys the ozone layer. Some of the reactions involved take place on the surface of very small ice crystals high in the stratosphere.

In other Nobel news the academy awarded the prize for literature to Doris Lessing, author of The Golden Notebook and The Good Terrorist, among others. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.