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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016
Born: 21 October 1944, Paris, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
Prize motivation: "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines."
Prize share: 1/3
Jean-Pierre Sauvage was born in Paris, France. He received his doctoral degree at the Université Louis-Pasteur in Strasbourg in 1971. The future Nobel Laureate Jean-Marie Lehn was his advisor. He has worked at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS, and is a professor at the Université de Strasbourg.
We can imagine that the components of the smallest machines could be molecules. For a machine to function, its parts must be able to move relative to each other. In 1983, Jean-Pierre Sauvage managed to achieve this by connecting two ring-shaped molecules into what is called a "catenane". Unlike ordinary chemical bonds, the molecules in catenanes are linked like a chain, where the links can move relative to each other. In the future, molecular machines could be used for new materials, sensors, and energy storage systems.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.