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The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, University of Strasbourg, France, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Borthwestern University, Evanston IL, USA and Bernard L. Feringa, University of Groningen, the Netherlands, for the design and synthesis of the world’s smallest molecular machines.
Oct 18, 2016
The three researchers have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added.
The 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have miniaturised machines and taken chemistry to a new dimension.
The first step towards a molecular machine was taken by Jean-Pierre Sauvage in 1983, when he succeeded in linking two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain, called a catenane. Normally, molecules are joined by strong covalent bonds in which the atoms share electrons, but in the chain they were instead linked by a freer mechanical bond. For a machine to be able to perform a task it must consist of parts that can move relative to each other. The two interlocked rings fulfilled exactly this requirement.
The second step was taken by Fraser Stoddart in 1991, when he developed a rotaxane. He threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle and demonstrated that the ring was able to move along the axle. Among his developments based on rotaxanes are a molecular lift, a molecular muscle and a molecule-based computer chip.
Bernard Feringa was the first person to develop a molecular motor ; in 1999 he got a molecular rotor blade to spin continually in the same direction. Using molecular motors, he has rotated a glass cylinder that is 10,000 times bigger than the motor and also designed a nanocar.
The University of Strasbourg already counted three Nobel Prize: Martin Karplus (Chemistry 2013), Jules Hoffmann (Physiology-Medicine, 2011) and Jean-Marie Lehn (Chemistry, 1987).
This Nobel Prize 2016, as well as the three previous awards, reinforces the longstanding partnership between the University of Strasbourg and the city and the eurometropolis of Strasbourg.
"It is a great joy to see the University of Strasbourg once again be distinguished from the most beautiful way, through one of its researchers.“We wish Jean-Pierre Sauvage our warmest congratulations and our admiration for his discoveries about the actuation controlled molecular machines. This distinguished award reflects on all the Region of Alsace ; this is made possible thanks to the dedication and devotion of Jean-Pierre Sauvage to Strasbourg and its university where he completed most of his research and his teaching.This recognition commits us, elected officials and the City and Eurometropolis of Strasbourg, to continue the long partnership with the University but also to develop it to the benefit of its international, intellectual and economic notoriety. This Noberprize promotes obviously further cooperation.” react Roland Ries, Mayor of Strasbourg, and Robert Herrmann, President of Eurometropole
Philippe Richert, President of the region Grand-Est has also paid tribute to the researcher : "All my elected colleagues will join me in congratulating Jean-Pierre Sauvage for this distinction and its unwavering commitment to science. There are now four Nobel laureates who are still active in our region Alsace. It is a strong proof of the attractiveness of our region and its reputation for excellence. It is also a great signal that commits us to continue our work together with all the universities of our Région Grand-Est, while expanding our support for research and higher education. Big thanks again to Professor Savage to contribute as fully to the international notoriety of our region."