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Mini machines win 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry


Mini machines win 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

  • Scottish, French and Dutch-born trio
  • Developed mini-machines, 1000 times smaller than a strand of hair
  • Can be used to develop new materials and processes

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to a Scottish, French and Dutch-born trio of boffins who have developed the world’s smallest machines.

The scientists have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform tasks when energy is used.

Who are they?

Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa will share the 8m Swedish Kronor (800,000 euro) prize.

Jean-Pierre Sauvage

  • Born 1944, Paris
  • Emeritus Professor, University of Strasbourg

Sir J Fraser Stoddart

  • Born 1942, Edinburgh
  • Northwestern University, US

Bernard L Feringa

  • Born 1951, Netherlands
  • Professor in Organic Chemistry, University of Groningen

Why have they won?

Sauvage, Stoddart and Feringa have designed and synthesised machines on a molecular scale.

The micro-machines are not visible to the human eye.

Linking molecules together, they are a thousand times thinner than a strand of hair.

What they are saying

“They have mastered motion control at the molecular scale,” – Olof Ramstrom, Nobel Committee.

“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 electric trains, washing machines, fans and food processors,” – The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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