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Micro Technology Wins the Nobel Prize!

10/6/16     The 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded for the development of the world’s smallest machines!


Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa share the prize for the design and synthesis of machines on a micro scale. The machines are a thousand times thinner than a strand of hair. They could deliver drugs inside the body. The prize recognizes their success in linking molecules together to design everything from motors to a car and muscles on a tiny scale. “They have mastered motion control at the molecular scale,” said Olof Ramström, from the Nobel Committee. Due to the notoriety of the “Nobel Prize”, this will inevitably influence this type of research, making this cutting edge technology blossom due to the increase of funding that will head its way.
Jean-Pierre’s earlier work made him realize he could link different molecules together in a chain. This was the first step towards building molecular machines. In 1994, Prof Sauvage’s research group succeeded in making one molecule rotate around the other in a controlled manner when energy was applied.
Sir Fraser made a key advance by threading a molecular ring on to a rod-like structure that acted as an axle. Sir Fraser then made use of the ring’s freedom to move along the axle. When he added heat, the ring jumped forwards and backwards – like a tiny shuttle. His group later built on this discovery to build numerous molecular machines, including a lift, a muscle and – in partnership with other researchers – a computer chip.
In 1999 Bernard led the first research to produce a molecular motor that continually spins in the same direction. In 2011, his group built a four-wheel-drive micro-car: a molecular chassis holding together four motors that functioned as wheels.
This award could possibly make the technology of “micro” jump light years ahead! We at MES are looking forward to being directly involved in that growth!