Professor Gerhard Ertl, November 2007 (aged 71)
Professor Gerhard Ertl is a German physicist in the Department of Physical Chemistry of the Fritz Haber Institute of the MPG . He was born on 10 October 1936 in Stuttgart, Germany. Professor Ertl won the Nobel prize for Chemistry in 2007.
Ertl’s research laid the foundation of modern surface chemistry, which has helped explain how fuel cells produce energy without pollution, how catalytic converters clean up car exhausts and even why iron rusts, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
His work has paved the way for development of cleaner energy sources and will guide the development of fuel cells, said Astrid Graslund, secretary of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.
The Nobel academy said Ertl provided a detailed description of how chemical reactions take place on surfaces. His findings applied in both academic studies and industrial development, the academy said. “Surface chemistry can even explain the destruction of the ozone layer, as vital steps in the reaction actually take place on the surfaces of small crystals of ice in the stratosphere,” the award citation reads.