Biotech Updates

Nobel Prize for Chemistry Awarded to Molecular Machine Makers

October 12, 2016

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2016 was awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage of University of Strasbourg, France; J. Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University, USA; and Bernard L. Feringa of University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The Award was bestowed on them for their significant contributions in designing and development of molecular machines.

In 1983, Sauvage initiated the development of molecular machines when he successfully linked two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain called catenane. Molecules are usually linked through strong covalent bonds, wherein atoms share electrons. However, in catenane, the molecules are joined together by a freer mechanical bond. In 1991, Stoddart developed a rotaxane by thressing molecular rings onto a thin molecular axle and exhibited that the ring can move along the axle. Based on the rotaxane, he developed a molecular lift, a molecular muscle, and a molecule-based computer chip. In 1999, Feringa developed the first molecular motor which enabled him to rotate glass cylinder which is 10,000 times bigger than the motor and also designed a nanocar.

Read the press release of the Nobel Prize for more details.