While Bob Dylan garnered the most news for getting his Nobel for literature, for the science and tech community, there’s another big winner worth talking about. What’s that? Thanks to three pioneers in nanochemistry, nanotechnology has netted its first Nobel!
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir James Frasier Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa for creating the world’s smallest machines: molecules with miniscule motors and controllable movements. Add energy, and these molecular machines can perform numerous tasks.
The miniaturization of technology could lead a revolution. With the miniature motor in the same stage the electric motor was in 1830, we have a long way to go down a road with endless possibilities. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Molecular machines will most likely be used in the development of things such as new materials, sensors and energy storage systems.”
This accomplishment has been decades in the making, and all three men have made significant strides in research over the years. Sauvage made the first big breakthrough in 1983 by successfully linking two ring-shaped molecules. Stoddart made the second breakthrough in 1991 when he threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle, and from there developing a molecular lift, molecular muscle, and molecule-based computer chip.
The last breakthrough was made by Feringa, who developed the first molecular motor in 1999. 15 years later, that motor could spin 12 million times per second. In 2011, his team used them to power a tiny molecular car.
The implications of their innovation could be huge. Think of tiny robots able to travel through a person’s bloodstream to deliver medicine, new materials like graphene, or tiny, powerful supercomputers.
What else but the Nobel’s have awards for both lyrical and chemical masterminds? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. As for me, I’m glad to live in a world wide enough to recognize all types of genius. See this video for more explanation on this awesome accomplishment.