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Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016
Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Bernard L. Feringa

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Press Release: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016

5 October 2016

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 to

Jean-Pierre Sauvage
University of Strasbourg, France

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

and

Bernard L. Feringa
University of Groningen, the Netherlands

"for the design and synthesis of molecular machines"

 

They developed the world's smallest machines

A tiny lift, artificial muscles and minuscule motors. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 is awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for their design and production of molecular 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.

2016's Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken molecular systems out of equilibrium's stalemate and into energy-filled states in which their movements can be controlled. In terms of development, the molecular motor is at the same stage as the electric motor was in the 1830s, when scientists displayed various spinning cranks and wheels, unaware that they would lead to washing machines, fans and food processors. Molecular machines will most likely be used in the development of things such as new materials, sensors and energy storage systems.

Read more about this year's prize

Popular Information
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Scientific Background
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Image - Elastic molecular structure (pdf 828 kB)

Image - Molecular elevator (pdf 978 kB)

Image - Molecular chain (pdf 813 kb)

Image - Molecular motor (pdf 820 kb)

Image - Molecular shuttle (pdf 8902 kb)

Image - Molecular knots (pdf 820 kb)

Image - Nanocar (pdf 874 kb)

All illustrations: Copyright © Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences



Jean-Pierre Sauvage, born 1944 in Paris, France. Ph.D. 1971 from the University of Strasbourg, France. Professor Emeritus at the University of Strasbourg and Director of Research Emeritus at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), France.
https://isis.unistra.fr/laboratory-of-inorganic-chemistry-jean-pierre-sauvage

Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, born 1942 in Edinburgh, UK. Ph.D. 1966 from Edinburgh University, UK. Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.
http://stoddart.northwestern.edu

Bernard L. Feringa, born 1951 in Barger-Compascuum, the Netherlands. Ph.D.1978 from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Professor in Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
www.benferinga.com

 

Prize amount: 8 million Swedish krona, to be shared equally between the Laureates.
Further information: http://kva.se and http://nobelprize.org
Press contact: Jessica Balksjö Nannini, Press Officer, phone +46 8 673 95 44, +46 70 673 96 50, jessica.balksjo@kva.se
Expert: Olof Ramström, member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, phone +46 8 790 69 15, +46 70 433 42 60, ramstrom@kth.se

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, founded in 1739, is an independent organisation whose overall objective is to promote the sciences and strengthen their influence in society. The Academy takes special responsibility for the natural sciences and mathematics, but endeavours to promote the exchange of ideas between various disciplines.



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