Trio wins chem­istry prize for ‘small­est ma­chines’

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD -

Jean-Pierre Sau­vage, J. Fraser Stod­dart and Bernard Feringa won the No­bel chem­istry prize on Wed­nes­day for work on molec­u­lar ma­chines that may lead to de­vel­op­ments like new ma­te­ri­als, sen­sors and en­ergy stor­age sys­tems.

“This year’s No­bel Prize in Chem­istry is about the world’s small­est ma­chines,” said Go­ran Hans­son, a mem­ber of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences which con­ferred the award.

The French, Scot­tish and Dutch sci­en­tists had de­vel­oped mol­e­cules with con­trol­lable move­ments that can per­form tasks when en­ergy is added, the Academy said in a state­ment award­ing the 8 mil­lion Swedish crown ($931,000) prize.

“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,” it added.

Sau­vage is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the Uni­ver­sity of Stras­bourg and direc­tor of re­search emer­i­tus at France’s Na­tional Cen­ter for Sci­en­tific Re­search.

Stod­dart, born in Ed­in­burgh, is pro­fes­sor of chem­istry at North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity in the United States, while Feringa is pro­fes­sor in or­ganic chem­istry at the Uni­ver­sity of G ron in gen in the Nether­lands.

“This is quite un­ex­pected, although it has been in the cards for 25 years, I think. Whenit hap­pens, it takes your breath away,” Stod­dart said in a phone in­ter­view, as he watched the cer­e­mony in a live broad­cast from his home out­side Chicago.

Feringa, when asked his re­ac­tion to learn­ing he had won, said: “What I said when I got this mes­sage is that I don’t know what to say.”

Chem­istry is the third of this year’s No­bel prizes after the medicine and physics lau­re­ates were an­nounced on Mon­day and Tues­day.

The prize is named after dy­na­mite in­ven­tor Al­fred No­bel and has been awarded since 1901 for achieve­ments in sci­ence, lit­er­a­ture and peace in ac­cor­dance with his will.

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