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Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa win 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Trio of Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa have won the prestigious 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has chosen them for this award for their individual efforts in developing molecular machines. These three laureates will share the 8 million Swedish kronor (around $933,000) prize equally.

What are molecular machines?

  • Molecular machines or nanomachines are the world’s smallest machines.
  • Their working is inspired by proteins that naturally act as biological machines within cells.
  • Molecular machines are discrete number of synthetic molecular components fused together. They produce quasi-mechanical movements in response to specific external stimuli such as light or temperature change.
  • Molecular machines can be put to work as tiny motors, pistons ratchets or wheels to produce mechanical motion and can move objects many time their size.
  • Future Potential Applications: Molecular machines can be developed to function as artificial muscles to power tiny robots or even prosthetic limbs in case of Bionics.
  • They may lead to developments like new sensors, materials and energy storage systems.
  • They can be used to deliver drugs within the human body directly to target a specific area of tissue to medicate or cancerous cells.
  • They can be used to design of a molecular computer which could be placed inside the body to detect disease even before any symptoms are exhibited.

Contributions of

  • Jean-Pierre Sauvage (France): He had taken first step towards a molecular machine in 1983, after he successfully linkied together two ring-shaped molecules to form a chain.
  • J Fraser Stoddart (Britain): In 1991, he threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle and successfully demonstrated that the ring was able to move along the axle.
  • Bernard L Feringa (Netherlands): He is the first person to develop a molecular motor. In 1999 successfully designed molecular rotor blade to spin continually in the same direction. He also had designed nanocar using molecular motors.


Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian chemist Ahmed Zewail passes away

The Egyptian-born Nobel-winning scientist Ahmed Zewail passed away in the United States. He was 70.

Mr Zewail had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his pioneering work in femtochemistry. He is the first Arab Scientist to win the Nobel Prize.

About Ahmed Zewail

  • Born on 26 February 1946 in Damanhur, Egypt.
  • He is famously known as the father of femtochemistry and was Science Advisor to US President Barack Obama.
  • He had received a Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master of Science (MSc) degrees in Chemistry from Alexandria University. He had completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • He was appointed as faculty at the California Institute of Technology in 1976. He became a naturalized citizen of US in 1982.
  • In 2013, he had joined the United Nations Scientific Advisory Board. He was prolific writer and had authored about 600 scientific articles and 16 books.
  • Awards and Honours: Egypt’s Order of the Grand Collar of the Nile, Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1993), Othmer Gold Medal (2009), Priestley Medal from the American Chemical Society.He was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 2001

Femtochemistry: It is the area of physical chemistry that studies chemical reactions on extremely short timescales, approximately 10−15 seconds (one femtosecond).


Four new elements in Periodic table get names

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has announced four proposed names for the four new elements that were added in periodic table in January 2016.

These names and symbols were chosen by the by nuclear researchers who discovered them. They will be finalised after public review and formal nod by the IUPAC Council.

Key facts

  • All these four elements are super heavy and are synthetic in nature i.e. they were created in laboratory.
  • These new elements are Nihonium (Nh), Moscovium (Mc), Tennessine (Ts), and Oganesson (Og).
  • They were added in the seventh row of the periodic table. Their addition has completed the seventh row of the periodic table of the elements.
Atomic No Element Name Element Symbol Facts
113 Nihonium Nh It was created by a group of Japanese researchers. The element incorporates word “Nihon” which means Japan in Japanese.
115 Moscovium Mc It has been named after Russian capital Moscow.
117 Tennessine Ts It has been named after American state of Tennessee by American researchers. Indian scientist Susanta Lahiri also had played an important role in discovering it.
118 Oganesson Og Named in honour of Russian researcher Yuri Oganessian. It is only the second element to be named after a living scientist.

About International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)

  • IUPAC is panel of scientist that governs chemical research and the admission of the new elements in the periodic table.
  • Under it rules, names of the elements must reflect one of the physical characteristics or chemical properties, a place, a mineral, a scientist (living or dead), or a mythological concept.
  • The names of elements is finalised by IUPAC which are easy to translate across major languages.
  • The names usually have endings like “-ine”, “-ium,” or “-on,” depending on the grouping of elements they belong to.