By Mia Shanley and Sven Nordenstam
STOCKHOLM, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Three U.S. scientists won the 2013 Nobel Prize for chemistry on Wednesday for laying the foundations for development of computers to understand complex chemical processes from the purification of exhaust fumes to photosynthesis.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement, when awarding the prize of 8 million crowns ($1.25 million), that Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel had pioneered the use of computer models that mirror chemical reactions.
The work helps in complex processes such as the development of drugs.
"Chemical reactions occur at lightning speed; electrons jump between atomic nuclei, hidden from the prying eyes of scientists," the academy added.
"The Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2013 have made it possible to map the mysterious ways of chemistry by using computers. Detailed knowledge of chemical processes makes it possible to optimize catalysts, drugs and solar cells."
Karplus, a US and Austrian citizen, researches at the University of Strasbourg and Harvard University. Levitt, a U.S. and British citizen, is at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Warshel, a U.S. and Israel citizen, is a professor at the University of Southern California.
Chemistry was the third of this year's Nobel prizes. The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of businessman and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel.