Koichi Takana


Kohichi Tanaka, an electrical engineer, was awarded half the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2006 jointly with John B. Fenn "for their development of soft desorption ionisation methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules." While employed by a corporation that focused on analytical chemistry, Koichi Tanaka helped to design and build a new mass spectrometer. Mass spectrometers separate particles with different charge to mass ratios. Macromolecules (such as proteins) are fragile and difficult to observe. Tanaka’s method mixed the macromolecules in another substance, dubbed the matrix. Then he utilized the interaction between a laser and matrix that results in the matrix absorbing the laser’s energy and releasing the ionized (charged) macromolecules.