Feeds

Chemistry Nobel awarded to semiconductor boffin

While Doris Lessing scoops literature gong

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?