2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Won by Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Bernard L Feringa, and J Fraser Stoddart (Download PDF)

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Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences selected trio of Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa for the prestigious 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their individual outstanding efforts in developing molecular machines.

Image of Chemistry Nobel Prize winner 2016

Image of Chemistry Nobel Prize Winner 2016

from left Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Bernard L Feringa and J Fraser Stoddart

They will divide the 8 million Swedish kronor (around $933,000) prize.

What are Molecular Machines?

  • Molecular machines or nan-omachines are the world’s smallest machines.
  • Inspired by proteins that naturally act as biological machines within cells.
  • Synthetic molecular components fused together make molecular machines, which produce quasi-mechanical movements in response to specific external stimuli such as light or temperature change.
  • Can be used in tiny motors, pistons ratchets, or wheels to produce mechanical wave and can move objects many times their size.

Future Potential Applications

  • Can function as artificial muscles to power tiny robots or even prosthetic bionic limbs.
  • Incorporate new sensors, materials, and energy storage systems.
  • Beneficial for localized delivery of drugs within the human body as medication or to terminate cancerous cells.
  • A molecular computer made from many such machines can be placed inside the body to identify possibility of any disease even before symptoms.
  • Jean-Pierre Sauvage (France) started his research on molecular machines during 1983, when he linked two ring-shaped molecules to form a chain.
  • Then J Fraser Stoddart (Britain) threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle and successfully demonstrated that the ring was able to move in 1991.
  • Whereas in 1999 Bernard L Feringa (Netherlands) became first person to develop a molecular motor by successfully designing a molecular rotor blade to spin repeatedly in a same direction. Later had developed a nano-    car using molecular motors.

- Published/Last Modified on: October 6, 2016

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