A new paper published in Nature Reviews Physics by Professor Santo Fortunato and colleagues from Northwestern University features a detailed analysis of the careers of Nobel Prize Laureates. They found that the prize- winning works in the three main science categories (physics, chemistry and medicine) tend to occur early in the career of the Laureate.
This may be due to a selection effect — because the Nobel Prize in science has never been awarded posthumously, those who produced groundbreaking works early on in their careers were more likely to wait long enough to be recognized. Also, award-winning papers tend to be produced by small teams, on average. Apart from the prize-winning work, which may be subject to peculiarities of the Nobel, there is no known major difference that distinguishes patterns governing the careers of scientific elites from those of ordinary scientists.