Professor Gerhard Ertl, November 2007 (aged 71)
Professor Gerhard Ertl is a
physicist in the Department of Physical
Chemistry of the
Fritz Haber Institute of the MPG . He was born on 10 October 1936 in
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.