Chauvin, Yves

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Yves Chauvin, 1930–2015, French chemist, b. Menen, Belgium, grad. Lyon School of Chemistry, Physics, and Electronics (CPE), 1954. Chauvin was a research engineer (1960–91) and then research director (1991–95) at the French Petroleum Institute in Reuil-Malmaison. He was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Robert Grubbs and Richard Schrock, for development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis. In metathesis reactions, double bonds between carbon atoms in different molecules are broken, and the separated atom groups form new double bonds, creating molecules in which the groups have changed places; the process may be represented schematically as AB + YZ → AY + BZ. Chauvin elucidated the function of such reactions and uncovered the types of metal compounds that act as catalysts in the reactions, paving the way for others to develop the actual catalysts.