Dutch scientist Ben Feringa wins Nobel Prize
Designing miniscule machines, a tiny lift, a minute four-wheel drive car or even artificial muscles that is why Dutch scientist Bernard L. Feringa and his fellow researchers Frenchman Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Brit Sir J. Fraser Stoddart have won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The three have led the way in the development and production of molecular machines.
Image: Nobel Prize
In the digital age, molecular machines are revolutionalising chemistry. Technology is already big, but now it has just entered a new and tiny dimension. The three scientists found that the movement of the molecules can be directed to carry out a task by adding energy. The implications for moving molecular technology are endless.
Building on the technological progress laid down by his fellow winners, Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Fraser Stoddart, Ben Feringa was the first person to develop a molecular motor. In 1999, he created the first molecular rotor blade to spin continually in the same direction. Now his molecular motors are able to rotate glass cylinders ten thousand times larger than the motor itself.
The three Nobel Laureates have brought molecular chemistry into a new era in which energy-filled states can be controlled. The Nobel Prize organisation compares it to the 1830s when scientists first displayed spinning cranks and wheels unaware that their discovery would lead to the invention of electric trams, washing machines, fans and food processors. The molecular equivalent will make it possible to create new materials, sensors and energy storage systems in the future.