The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2016 was awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage of
University of Strasbourg, France; J. Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern
University, USA; and Bernard L. Feringa of University of Groningen, the
Netherlands. The Award was bestowed on them for their significant
contributions in designing and development of molecular machines.
In 1983, Sauvage initiated the development of molecular machines when he
successfully linked two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain
called catenane. Molecules are usually linked through strong covalent bonds,
wherein atoms share electrons. However, in catenane, the molecules are
joined together by a freer mechanical bond. In 1991, Stoddart developed a
rotaxane by thressing molecular rings onto a thin molecular axle and
exhibited that the ring can move along the axle. Based on the rotaxane, he
developed a molecular lift, a molecular muscle, and a molecule-based
computer chip. In 1999, Feringa developed the first molecular motor which
enabled him to rotate glass cylinder which is 10,000 times bigger than the
motor and also designed a nanocar.
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