Stockholm, Sweden Americans Robert H. Grubbs and Richard R. Schrock and Yves Chauvin of France won the Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for discoveries that let industry produce drugs and advanced plastics more efficiently and with less hazardous waste.
The trio won the award for their development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis - a way to rearrange groups of atoms within molecules that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences likened to a dance in which couples change partners.
The process is used daily in the chemical, biotechnology and food industries to make stronger plastics, better drugs and improved food preservatives.
"This represents a great step forward for 'green chemistry,' reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production. Metathesis is an example of how important basic science has been applied for the benefit of man, society and the environment," the committee said.
Grubbs, 63, is a professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, and Schrock is a chemistry professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chauvin, 74, is the honorary director of research at the Institut Francais du Petrole in Rueil-Malmaison, France.
The award for peace will be announced Friday. The economics prize, the only one not named in Nobel's will, will be announced Monday.
The literature prize, which is always announced on a Thursday, could come next week.