At this summer’s Lindau Nobel Laureates meeting in Germany, participating laureates and young researchers came from all over the world to discuss chemistry. The Nature Video team filmed three discussions on issues that matter to the current generation of chemists, including the world's pressing problems and how chemistry can help us to solve them.
Some of the dialogue focused on the role of catalysts. Almost all industrial processes rely on catalysts, which increase the rate of chemical reactions. Many catalysts are made from rare metals—and the young researchers in this film are worried about them running out. They put the problem to Nobel laureates Robert Grubbs and Gerhard Ertl. The group discusses how dwindling supplies of rare metals could affect industry, energy production and society. But the laureates raise a more fundamental problem: in many cases, we don't fully understand how catalysts actually work.