Nobel Prize in Chemistry – Facts & Information

On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes.

As described in Nobel’s will one part was dedicated to “the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement”. Learn more about the Nobel Prize in Chemistry from 1901 to 2010.

102 Nobel Prizes in Chemistry have been awarded since 1901. It was not awarded on eight occasions: in 1916, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1933, 1940, 1941 and 1942.

62 Chemistry Prizes have been given to one Laureate only.

22 Chemistry Prizes have been shared by two Laureates.

18 Chemistry Prizes have been shared between three Laureates.

In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: “A prize amount may be equally divided between two works, each of which is considered to merit a prize. If a work that is being rewarded has been produced by two or three persons, the prize shall be awarded to them jointly. In no case may a prize amount be divided between more than three persons.”

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to 160 Laureates. As Frederick Sanger has been awarded twice, there are 159 individuals who have received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry since 1901.

To date, the youngest Nobel Laureate in Chemistry is Frédéric Joliot, who was 35 years old when he was awarded the Chemistry Prize in 1935, together with his wife, Irène Joliot-Curie.

The oldest Nobel Laureate in Chemistry to date is John B. Fenn, who was 85 years old when he was awarded the Chemistry Prize in 2002.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded women

2009: Ada E. Yonath

1964: Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin

1935: Irène Joliot-Curie

1911: Marie Curie

Linus Pauling is the only person who have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes.

There have been no posthumous Nobel Prizes in Chemistry. From 1974, the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that a Nobel Prize cannot be awarded posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize. Before 1974, the Nobel Prize has only been awarded posthumously twice: to Dag Hammarskjöld (Nobel Peace Prize 1961) and Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Nobel Prize in Literature 1931).

The Curies were the most successful “Nobel Prize family”. The husband-and-wife partnership of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie were awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. Marie Curie herself was awarded the Nobel Prize a second time, receiving the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Marie and Pierre Curie’s daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, was awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, together with her husband, Frédéric Joliot.

Adolf Hitler forbade three German Nobel Laureates from receiving the Nobel Prize – two of whom were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Richard Kuhn in 1938 and Adolf Butenandt in 1939. The third person, Gerhard Domagk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1939. All of them could receive the Nobel Prize Diploma and Medal later, but not the prize amount.

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