By Paulina Anaya.
It is Monday, October 5, 2016, and this year’s Chemistry Nobel laureates have just been announced. There were not two, but three men awarded the Nobel Prize for designing nothing less than the “world’s smallest machines”. So who were these men? Let’s find out!
- Jean-Pierre Sauvage, a French-born scientist who received a Ph. D. in 1971 from the University of Strasbourg, France. He is a Professor Emeritus from the University of Strasbourg as well as Director of Research Emeritus at France’s National Center for Scientific Research.
- Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, a Scottish scientist who received his Ph. D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1966. Today, he works as a Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry at the Evanston campus of Northwestern University in the US.
- Bernard L. Feringa, Feringa earned his Ph.D. from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the same country he is from. Currently, he works in the same university he received his Ph.D. as a Professor of Organic Chemistry.
The three laureates were awarded the Nobel Prize “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines”, otherwise known as nanotechnology. Molecular machines are currently as advanced as the electric motor a couple hundred years ago, however, ongoing investigation and experimentation promise great things for the future. Once perfected, it is expected they be used in the development of new materials and and systems of energy storage.
It all began with Sauvage in 1983 when he managed a way of linking two ring-shaped molecules into a chain called catenae. Then, in 1991, Fraser developed the rotaxane, a molecular axle that he threaded to a molecular ring, allowing the movement of the ring along the axle. After a few years, the first molecular motor was developed by Feringa in 1999. These have been the most important stages of the development of this relatively new area of science, and, although years have passed since their discoveries were made, they have finally been recognized for their ground-breaking dedication to science and the education of the younger generation in the scientific field.
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