Koichi Tanaka life and biography

Koichi Tanaka picture, image, poster

Koichi Tanaka biography

Date of birth : 1959-08-03
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Toyama City, Japan
Nationality : Japanese
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-16
Credited as : chemist, macromolecules, Nobel Prize for Chemistry

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Koichi Tanaka is a Japanese scientist who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002 for developing a novel method for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules with John Bennett Fenn and Kurt Wuthrich (the latter for work in NMR spectroscopy).

Educated at Tohoku University and immediately hired by the Central Research Laboratory of Shimadzu Corporation. There, Tanaka developed a technique of mass spectrometry, called "soft laser desorption", when in 1985 he used the wrong type of Ultra Fine Metallic Powder as a matrix in an experiment (glycerine base instead of cobalt base). When drying the powder, he noticed a signal peak in a place where it was not expected, the result of ionization. This ionization happily made much more accurate spectometry possible.

For mass spectrometry analyses of a macromolecule, such as a protein, the analyte must be ionized and vaporized by laser irradiation. The problem is that the direct irradiation of an intense laser pulse on a macromolecule causes cleavage of the analyte into tiny fragments and the loss of its structure. In February 1985, Tanaka found that by using a mixture of ultra fine metal powder in glycerol as a matrix, an analyte can be ionized without losing its structure. His work was filed as a patent application in 1985, and after the patent application was made public reported at the Annual Conference of the Mass Spectrometry Society of Japan held in Kyoto, in May 1987 and became known as soft laser desorption (SLD).


Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2002 (with John B. Fenn and Kurt W├╝thrich)

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