Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 – Congratulations!

© Karolinska-Institut

On October 5, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 was jointly awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for their design and production of molecular machines.

"Their contributions to the development of molecular machines based on fundamental principles of co-ordination chemistry and hydrogen bonding is outstanding and demonstrates how the combination of structural ideas and imaginative synthetic chemistry can be so powerful when combined effectively." Michael Mingos, University of Oxford, Series Editor of Structure and Bonding

See what the Nobel Prize winners have published with Springer!

All articles have been made freely available until December 12th


Chemistry Nobel Prize for Molecular Machines

Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa are awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the design and synthesis of so called “Molecular Machines”. These molecules consist of parts which can move relative to each other without being covalently linked. Freer mechanical bonds are used to build such interlocked molecular architectures for controlled motion. Each of the awardees has made major contributions to the development of this growing field.

© SpringerThe first breakthrough in this field was contributed by Jean-Pierre Sauvage and co-workers in 1983 who reported the straightforward synthesis of catenanes and rotaxanes. While the concept of mechanically-interlocked molecular architectures had been discussed in the preceding years this was the first time that such structures could be easily synthesized and marked the first step in the development of molecular machinery. The Springer book “Molecular Machines and Motors” edited by the Nobel Laureate is published in the Series Structure and Bonding and provides an insight to this topic. Series Editor (Structure and Bonding) Michael Mingos shared his thoughts on the new Nobel Laureates, ‘their contributions to the development of molecular machines based on fundamental principles of co-ordination chemistry and hydrogen bonding is outstanding and demonstrates how the combination of structural ideas and imaginative synthetic chemistry can be so powerful when combined effectively.’

In 1991 a huge advance in the field was contributed by the second awardee Sir J. Fraser Stoddart who reported the first molecular shuttle by demonstrating that a rotaxane ring is able move along a molecular axle. He is Editor-in-Chief of the SpringerOpen journal Applied Nanoscience, which is dedicated to cutting-edge research in this area of nanotechnology. These outstanding contributions from Jean-Pierre Sauvage and J. Fraser Stoddart provided the foundations to molecular machines.

Building on these developments in 1999 Bernard (Ben) L. Feringa reported the first molecular motor performing light-driven unidirectional rotation. This system was utilized to generate molecular motors performing tasks; for example a rotor blade spinning continually in the same direction or a nanocar with four motor components moving on a surface. This discovery marks a major advance in the development of molecular machinery and though there is still some way to go it seems that molecular robots will play an important role in science and in future applications like sensors, energy and data storage.

Congratulations to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa.