On Wednesday 18 November, Ben Feringa, professor of organic chemistry, was presented with the second Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize. The prize was established to honour a person who has made an important contribution to a breakthrough in chemistry. Feringa was awarded the prize for his work on molecular motors.
In 1999, Ben Feringa presented the first molecular motor, a part of a molecule able to accomplish full rotation under the influence of light and heat. He produced countless different motors, and even managed to build a molecular ‘4-wheel drive’ car. By attaching the motor molecules to a surface, he created a park of nano turbines that rotate when touched by light. More recently, he defined the first
asymmetric molecular motor
Feringa is seen worldwide as a pioneer in the field of molecular motors. Earlier this year, he was cited extensively in a
background article about nanomotors
in the journal Nature. One way his motors could be used is to administer medication inside the human body. This week, an article was published describing a
. The article,
which appeared in Nano Letters
, was partly based on Feringa’s work. In addition to molecular motors, Feringa also focuses on catalysis and is currently working on ‘smart drugs’, which can be switched on and off as required.
The prize was presented by Queen Mathilde of Belgium. This is the second edition of the Solvay Prize, which was established in 2012 in commemoration of Solvay’s 150th anniversary. The Solvay family, which is still a major shareholder in the company, has always maintained a profound interest in fundamental science. More than a hundred years ago, they set up the ‘
, at which top-class scientists speak about specific topics relating to physics and chemistry. In 2007, Feringa attended a Solvay Conference about supramolecular chemistry and molecular motors, and he will attend the next edition in 2016, when catalysis will be on the programme.
For more information about the prize, please refer to the University of Groningen press release.
Work carried out by Ben Feringa’s group on Science LinX (some articles Dutch only):
New molecular motor mimics two wheels on an axle
Tuning chemistry with light
New molecular machines are textbook stuff
New chemical reaction greener and less expensive
Science turned into dance video makes finals
26/11/13 Prijzen voor twee Groningse chemici
16/09/13 An antibiotic with an ‘on’ switch
08/08/13 Dossier moleculaire motors bij Kennislink
Cooking up cooler carbon bonds
14/05/13 TOP-subsidie voor chemicus Ben Feringa
08/05/12 Motor-tuning voor moleculen
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