Nobel Prize for chemistry awarded to ‘molecular machine’ trio

The winners of the 2016 Nobel Chemistry Prize (L-R) Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa are displayed on a screen during a press conference to announce the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on October 5, 2016. / AFP / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to three molecular scientists who developed the world’s smallest machines.

The prize went to Jean-Pierre Sauvage of the University of Strasbourg in France; Sir James Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University in the United States, and Bernard L Feringa of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands for the “design and synthesis of molecular machines.”

“The 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have miniaturized machines and taken chemistry to a new dimension,” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

It explained that Sauvage took the first step in 1983 by linking two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain, while Stoddart in 1991 developed a rotaxane, a dumbbell-shaped molecular structure that enabled him to build molecular lift, a molecular muscle and a molecule-based computer chip.

Feringa in 1999 was the first person to develop a molecular motor and in 2011 designed a four-wheel-drive nanocar.