Chemistry Noble Prize: For World’s Smallest Machines



Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J.Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa were honored on wednesday(5.10.2016) in Stockholm for “the design and synthesis of molecular machines that are smaller than a hair.”

The three chemists synthesised molecules that move like machines when energy is applied, for example in the form of light. They work just like an electric pump that starts as soon as it is plugged in and switched on.

Jean-Pierre Sauvage synthesised a molecule that looked like two interlaced pretzels. Both molecules were connected like two links in a chain but they could move freely around one another-like the premise for a molecular machine.

Fraser Stoddart created a kind of “Molecular Elevator” in which two interlaced molecules of which one can jump forwards and other backwards like a switch that is in on or off position.

In 1999, Bernard Feringa built the first two molecular motor in which two molecules rotate around each other like two motor blades under UV light exposure before returning into their starting position. Out of two molecules, Feringa even created a car that moved around in a petri dish. Its movement could only be seen with the microscopes that work at an atomic level.

Even though there are no concrete applications of Molecular machines but researchers have plenty of ideas for these molecular systems.

“Molecular machines can lead to pharmaceutical that can be switched on and off.”

“Molecular machines could also offer a way to convert sunlight into electricity. “

Yes! Micron sized cars and excavators can be seen even, but as a future scientists you have to become a bit crazy to come up with such crazy but innovating ideas.