The Hospital of Pilgrims is a Renaissance style building, located in Altafulla, a town near Tarragona, on the southern coast of Catalonia, Spain. The “Zeigler-Natta legacy” encompasses two places: the historical laboratory of the Max-Planck-Institut (MPI) für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim, Germany and the “Giulio Natta” Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering at the Politecnico in Milano, Italy. These locations are now proudly signified on the interactive map of the European Chemistry Landmarks.
As always, these locations have vast histories behind them, as the EuChemS Historical Landmark Awards are given to locations of significance, to recognise the role of science and chemistry in the history and heritage of the continent. The Hospital of Pilgrims exemplifies this by hosting the laboratory of chemist and naturalist Antoni de Martí i Franquès in the 18th century. In this laboratory, significant strides were made in atmospheric chemistry research. Martí’s eudiometrical tests established the composition of the air, and left a significant scientific aftermath, as they were used for many years to come.
The Legacy of Karl Ziegler and Giulio Natta leads us to the more recent past, however, the historical significance of the duo’s interconnected research on the field of synthetic polymers cannot be understated. Their cooperative and competitive research and development activites – which Zeigler done in Max-Planck-Institut (MPI) in Mülheim, while Natta in Politecnico di Milano – resulted in discovering a way to catalyse the production of polyethylene much simpler than before. Their discovery was made in 1953, for which they received a joint noble prize in 1963 – and this year, 60 years later, their respective places of work will jointly receive the EuChemS Historical Landmark Awards to commemorate their discoveries made there.
You can learn more about the EuChemS Historical Landmarks, and see the recipients of the awards of the last years here.
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