Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
ResearchZernike (ZIAM)NewsOther Events

Körber Prize awarded to Prof.dr. B.L. Feringa et al.


08 September 2003 Körber-Stiftung, K.A.Körber-Chaussee 10, D-21033 Hamburg, Germany
Körber European Science Award 2003 for Nanotechnology Researchers

"Light-driven molecular walkers"

The Hamburg Körber Foundation awards its Körber Prize worth 750,000 € to an international team of physicists, chemists, and biologists who want to develop a motor the size of a molecule.

The Prize winners are:

Professor Niek F. van Hulst from the MESA Research Institute of the University of Twente, Professor Ben L. Feringa from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Groningen, Professor Martin Möller from the Department of Textile Chemistry and Macromolecular Chemistry of the Rheinisch-Westfälisch Technical University in Aachen, and Dr. Justin Molloy from the Division of Physical Biochemistry at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research.

The team working with the physicist Niek van Hulst has great experience in using light rays to visualize and manipulate individual molecules, the chemist Ben Feringa is a specialist in the synthesis of artificial motor molecules, the polymer chemist Martin Möller knows everything about binding molecules to surfaces, and the biologist Justin Molloy does research on the motor molecules that drive muscle contraction that can serve as role models for artificial motors.

The project the Prize winners have initiated is basic research with a close affinity to practical applications. Such a machine the size of a molecule could, for example, precisely dose medication inside the body, conduct research inside of cells, help solve the riddles posed by illnesses such as cancer, permit specific chemical reactions between molecules, or enable us to produce completely new materials.

Preconditions for being able to construct such a motor are various methods that have been developed since the mid 1990s and in which the Prize winners have played a key role. Prime examples are optical nearfield microscopy and atomic force microscopy, with which individual molecules can be visualized, directly addressed with light, or grasped and manipulated with laser rays, as if they were tweezers. The size of the molecules that the researchers work with are a factor 100 smaller than the smallest structures that can be produced today, such as those on a Pentium 4 chip.

By selecting this project in 2003, the Körber Prize, which strives to spotlight new ideas that themselves may stimulate further research, is providing a stimulus to science in the sense of a Forum for Impulses.

Last modified:22 October 2012 2.31 p.m.