Noyori, Ryoji

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Ryoji Noyori, 1938–, Japanese chemist, D.Eng. Kyoto Univ., 1967. Noyori was an instructor at Kyoto Univ. from 1963 to 1968. He then joined the faculty at Nagoya Univ., where he is a professor and director of the Research Center for Materials Science. Noyori shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with William Knowles and Barry Sharpless for the development of catalytic asymmetric synthesis, with the work of Noyori and Knowles focusing on the utilizing the process of hydrogenation and that of Sharpless on utilizing oxidation (see oxidation and reduction). Most molecules in nature exist in chiral forms whose structures mirror each other (see Stereoisomers under isomer), with one chiral form often biologically active and the other inactive. Catalytic asymmetric synthesis is an enzymelike process that can quickly produce an excess of one of these chiral forms; it has applications in the production of industrial biomaterials and pharmaceuticals.