Chemistry Noble Prize

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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 has been conferred to:

1. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, University of Strasbourg, France

2. Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

3. Bernard L. Feringa, University of Groningen, the Netherlands

“for the design and synthesis of molecular machines”

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 is awarded for their design and production of molecular machines.

They developed the world’s smallest machines.

They have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added.

The development of computing demonstrates how the miniaturisation of technology can lead to a revolution.

The 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have miniaturised machines and taken chemistry to a new dimension.

The first step towards a molecular machine was taken by Jean-Pierre Sauvage in 1983, when he succeeded in linking two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain, called a catenane. Normally, molecules are joined by strong covalent bonds in which the atoms share electrons, but in the chain they were instead linked by a freer mechanical bond. For a machine to be able to perform a task it must consist of parts that can move relative to each other. The two interlocked rings fulfilled exactly this requirement.

The second step was taken by Fraser Stoddart in 1991, when he developed a rotaxane. He threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle and demonstrated that the ring was able to move along the axle. Among his developments based on rotaxanes are a molecular lift, a molecular muscle and a molecule-based computer chip.

Bernard Feringa was the first person to develop a molecular motor; in 1999 he got a molecular rotor blade to spin continually in the same direction. Using molecular motors, he has rotated a glass cylinder that is 10,000 times bigger than the motor and also designed a nanocar.

Prize amount: 8 million Swedish krona, to be shared equally between the Laureates.

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