Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded for molecular machines
Vladimir Korolev, N+1
The winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry were announced in Stockholm today. The 108th Prize will be awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa with the wording "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines". You can read more about the works of the laureates in the press release of the committee.
Jean-Pierre Sauvage has developed a convenient method for the synthesis of a special class of compounds – catenans. The molecules of these substances consist of two rings linked to each other. Such connections are called topological, or mechanical. Fraser Stoddart's works expand the list of compounds with similar "non–chemical" bonds - his group was engaged in the synthesis and research of rotaxanes. Their molecules consist of a long chain on which a ring is loosely worn. Thanks to two large structures at the ends of the chain, the ring cannot "fall off" from it. Stoddart managed to show that the ring can move freely along the chain.
Examples of catenans (top) and rotaxans (bottom)
Bernard Feringa became the first chemist to develop and synthesize a molecular motor – a molecule that under the influence of light underwent structural changes and began to rotate like a windmill blade in a strictly specified direction. In 1999, with the help of molecular motors, the scientist managed to make a glass cylinder rotate, which exceeded them in size by 10 thousand times.
An example of a molecular motor that makes a gold nanoparticle rotate
Catenans and rotaxans are also often important fragments of modern molecular machines. By placing special fragments on the chains that can change their charge or other properties as a result of external influences, scientists can control the rotation of these molecules. So, for example, "molecular pumps" were created, capable of transferring rings along the chains of rotaxanes strictly in a certain direction.
The awards will be presented in Stockholm between December 5-10, 2016. The size of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was eight million Swedish kronor (about 60 million rubles).
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