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Ben Feringa awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

05 October 2016

His name was the third name announced, so tension was high. The chair of the Nobel committee had already said that the prize was for 'the tiniest machine'. And that is exactly where Feringa's expertise lies. At last the suspense was broken when the final name was announced: Bernard L. Feringa.

Ben Feringa and part of his team | Photo Elmer Sterken
Ben Feringa and part of his team | Photo Elmer Sterken

About 15 minutes after the announcement, the corridor outside Feringa’s second floor office is packed. His entire department appears to be there, most people wearing huge grins. As of today, they work in the lab of a Nobel Laureate.

But the Laureate is nowhere to be seen, at first. He is in his office, talking on the phone to the journalists present at the announcement in Stockholm. When the excitement in the hallway becomes too loud, people hiss ‘quiet!’ so as not to disturb him. And because they are trying to hear -- through the Nobel website on their smartphones -- what Feringa is saying.

The Feringa appears, greeted by a huge cheer and applause. Emeritus professor Jan Engberts, the Nestor of the institute, congratulates Feringa with a short speech: ‘We all hoped for this, and now it has become reality’. Then Ben Feringa himself addresses the crowd: ‘I am deeply honoured’, he says. The emotion is audible in his voice. ‘This is all due to the hard work of all of the clever students and staff here. Thank you so much. I hope that this will help all of you in your future careers.’ Then the door closes again. The phone is ringing off the hook.

Read also: Groningen throws Nobel party for Feringa

Watch the three Chemistry Nobel Lectures.

Read more about Ben Feringa’s research

(all articles available in English):

Two light switches combined in one molecule

Ben Feringa wins Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize

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

An antibiotic with an 'on' switch

Cooking up cooler carbon bonds

Moving molecules

University of Groningen news

Nobel Prize Award Ceremony for Ben Feringa

New University of Groningen building named after Nobel Prize laureate Ben Feringa

Looking back on the Nobel lecture: Ben Feringa made an Honorary Citizen of Groningen

Ben Feringa's nanocar on the Grote Markt

Ben Feringa has been appointed Commander in the Order of the Netherlands Lio

Surprising finding under the hood of molecular motors

University of Groningen videos on Feringa's work:

Elektrically powered nano car

On building a nano car

An antibiotic with an 'on' switch

Last modified:19 September 2017 12.43 p.m.
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