STOCKHOLM, Oct 10 (Reuters) German scientist Gerhard Ertl won the 2007 Nobel Prize for chemistry for his work in surface chemistry, the Swedish Academy of Sciences said today.
The coveted 10 million Swedish crown (1.54 million dollar) award recognised his studies on what happens when molecules hit solid surfaces, an important process in the modern world.
''His insights have provided the scientific basis of modern surface chemistry: his methodology is used in both academic research and the industrial development of chemical processes,'' the academy said in a statement.
Ertl, who took the Nobel on his 71st birthday, is the former director of the Fritz-Haber Institute at Berlin's Max-Planck Gesellschaft.
The academy said his research into how individual layers of atoms and molecules behave on the surface of catalysts could explain ''why iron rusts, how fuel cells function and how the catalysts in our cars work''.
This was the third of this year's crop of prestigious Nobel prizes handed out each year for achievements in science, literature, economics and peace.
The prizes bearing the name of dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the 1895 will of the Swedish businessman.
REUTERS PD PM1620