Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016

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  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 05 October 2016
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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2016 has been awarded jointly to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, University of Strasbourg, France, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA, and Bernard L. Feringa, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines".

The Nobel Laureates have developed the world's smallest machines by taking molecular systems out of the stalemate of equilibrium into energy-filled states in which their movements can be controlled. Molecular machines will probably be used in the development of, e.g., new materials, sensors, and energy storage systems.

In 1983, Jean-Pierre Sauvage linked two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain, called a catenane. The two interlocked rings can move relative to each other. In 1991, Fraser Stoddart developed a rotaxane. He demonstrated that a molecular ring on a thin molecular axle was able to move along the axle. Based on rotaxanes, he developed, for example, a molecular lift, a molecular muscle, and a molecule-based computer chip. In 1999, Bernard Feringa was the first person to develop a molecular motor and was, for example, able to design a nanocar.


Jean-Pierre Sauvage, born 1944 in Paris, France, earned his Ph.D. from Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, France, under the supervision of Jean-Marie Lehn in 1971. After postdoctoral research with M. L. H. Green at Oxford University, UK, he returned to Strasbourg, where he has been CNRS Director of Research from 1979–2009 and Emeritus Professor since 2009.

Among many other honors, Sauvage has received the French Chemical Society Award in Coordination Chemistry in 1971, the CNRS Silver Medal in 1988, the Prelog Gold Medal from ETH Zurich, Switzerland, in 1994, and the Blaise Pascal Medal in Chemistry of the European Academy of Sciences in 2012. He is a Member of the French Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences.


Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, born 1942 in Edinburgh, UK, obtained his Ph.D. from Edinburgh University, UK, in 1966. After postdoctoral work at Queen’s University, Canada, he became Lecturer in Chemistry at Sheffield University, UK. In 1990, he moved to the Chair of Organic Chemistry at Birmingham University, UK, and was Head of the School of Chemistry there from 1993 to 1997 before moving to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA, as the Saul Winstein Professor of Chemistry in 1997, succeeding Nobel laureate Donald Cram.
In 2002, he became the Acting Co-Director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), Los Angeles, CA, USA, in 2003, the Fred Kavli Chair of NanoSystems Sciences and served from then through August 2007 as the Director of the CNSI. Since 2008, he is Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.

Among other honors, Stoddart received the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2007 and was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the New Year's Honours in 2006, by Queen Elizabeth II.


Bernard L. Feringa, born 1951 in Barger-Compascuum, The Netherlands, studied chemistry at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and obtained his Ph.D. there in 1978. After working as a Research Scientist at Shell Laboratories in the Netherlands and the UK, he returned to the University of Groningen as Lecturer. In 1988, Feringa was promoted to Full Professor of Organic Chemistry and in 2004, he was named the Jacobus H. van't Hoff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Sciences.

Among many other honors, Feringa has received the Spinoza Award (the highest scientific distinction in the Netherlands), the Prelog Gold Medal, the Paracelsus Medal, the Nagoya Gold Medal, and the August Wilhelm von Hofmann Medal in 2016. He is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. In 2008, he was appointed Academy Professor and was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands.

Feringa will speak at the Angewandte Symposium in Berlin, Germany, in September 2017.


Selected Publications by Jean-Pierre Sauvage

  • M. Mohankumar, F. Monti, M. Holler, F. Niess, B. Delavaux-Nicot, N. Armaroli, J.-P. Sauvage, J.-F. Nierengarten, Combining Topological and Steric Constraints for the Preparation of Heteroleptic Copper(I) Complexes, Chem. Eur. J. 2014, 20, 12083–12090. DOI: 10.1002/chem.201402429
  • J.-P. Sauvage, P. Gaspard (eds.), From Non-Covalent Assemblies to Molecular Machines, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2010. ISBN: 978-3-527-32277-0
  • P. Mobian,  J. M. Kern, J.-P. Sauvage, Light-Driven Machine Prototypes Based on Dissociative Excited States: Photoinduced Decoordination and Thermal Recoordination of a Ring in a Ruthenium(II)-Containing [2]Catenane, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 2392–2395. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200352522
  • M. C. Jiménez, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage, Towards Synthetic Molecular Muscles: Contraction and Stretching of a Linear Rotaxane Dimer, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2000, 39, 3284–3287. DOI: 10.1002/1521-3773(20000915)39:18<3284::AID-ANIE3284>3.0.CO;2-7
  • L. Raehm, J. M. Kern, J.-P. Sauvage, A Transition Metal Containing Rotaxane in Motion: Electrochemically Induced Pirouetting of the Ring on the Threaded Dumbbell, Chem. Eur. J. 1999, 5, 3310–3317. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-3765(19991105)5:11<3310::AID-CHEM3310>3.0.CO;2-R
  • J.-P. Collin, P. Gaviña, V. Heitz, J.-P. Sauvage, Construction of One-Dimensional Multicomponent Molecular Arrays: Control of Electronic and Molecular Motions, Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 1998, 1, 1. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0682(199801)1998:1<1::AID-EJIC1>3.0.CO;2-#
  • A. Livoreil, J.-P. Sauvage, N. Armaroli, V. Balzani, L. Flamigni, B. Ventura, Electrochemically and Photochemically Driven Ring Motions in a Disymmetrical Copper [2]-Catenate, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1997, 119, 12114–12124. DOI: 10.1021/ja9720826
  • D. B. Amabilino, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, A. Livoreil, L. Perez-Garcia, J.-P. Sauvage, J. F. Stoddart, A Switchable Hybrid [2]-Catenane Based on Transition Metal Complexation and π-Electron Donor-Acceptor Interactions, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1996, 118, 3905–3913. DOI: 10.1021/ja954329+
  • J.-P. Collin, P. Gavina, J.-P. Sauvage, Electrochemically Induced Molecular Motions in a Copper(I) Complex Pseudorotaxane, Chem. Commun. 1996, 17, 2005–2006. DOI: 10.1039/CC9960002005
  • A. Livoreil, C. O. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage, Electrochemically Triggered Swinging of a [2]-Catenate, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1994, 116, 9399–9400. DOI: 10.1021/ja00099a095
  • J.-F. Nierengarten, C. O. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage, Synthesis of a Doubly Interlocked [2]-Catenane, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1994, 116, 375–376. DOI: 10.1021/ja00080a045
  • C. O. Dietrich-Buchecker, J.-P. Sauvage, A Synthetic Molecular Trefoil Knot, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 1989, 28, 189–192. DOI: 10.1002/anie.198901891
  • M. Cesario, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, J. Guilhem, C. Pascard, J.-P. Sauvage, Molecular Structure of a Catenand and Its Copper(I) Catenate: Complete Rearrangement of the Interlocked Macrocyclic Ligands by Complexation, J. Chem. Soc. Chem. Commun. 1985, 244–247. DOI: 10.1039/C39850000244
  • J.-P. Sauvage, J. Weiss, Synthesis of Biscopper(I) [3]Catenates: Multiring Interlocked Coordinating Systems, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1985, 107, 6108–6110. DOI: 10.1021/ja00307a049

Selected Publications by Sir J. Fraser Stoddart

  • J. Faiz, From Supramolecular to Systems Chemistry: Complexity Emerging out of Simplicity, ChemViews Mag. 2012.
    Fraser Stoddart, Northwestern University, USA, asks what does the future hold for supramolecular chemistry?
  • C. J. Bruns, J. F. Stoddart, The Nature of the Mechanical Bond: From Molecules to Machines, Wiley, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-119-04400-0
  • C. Cheng, J. F. Stoddart, Wholly Synthetic Molecular Machines, ChemPhysChem 2016, 17, 1780–1793. DOI: 10.1002/cphc.201501155
  • A. B. Braunschweig, W. R. Dichtel, O. Š. Miljanić, M. A. Olson, J. M. Spruell, S. I. Khan, J. R. Heath, J. F. Stoddart, Modular Synthesis and Dynamics of a Variety of Donor–Acceptor Interlocked Compounds Prepared by Click Chemistry, Chem. Asian. J. 2007, 2, 634 –647. DOI: 10.1002/asia.200700035
  • V. Balzani, M. Clemente-Len, A. Credi, B. Ferrer, M. Venturi, A. H. Flood, J. F. Stoddart, Autonomous Artificial Nanomotor Powered by Sunlight, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2006, 103, 1178–1183. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0509011103
  • F. Vögtle, J. F. Stoddart, M. Shibasaki (eds.), Stimulating Concepts in Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2005. DOI: 10.1002/3527605746
  • J. D. Badjić, V. Balzani, A. Credi, S. Silvi, J. F. Stoddart, A Molecular Elevator, Science 2004, 303, 1845–1849. DOI: 10.1126/science.1094791
  • T. J. Huang, B. Brough, C.-M. Hoa, Y. Liu, A. H. Flood, P. A. Bonvallet, H.-R. Tseng, J. F. Stoddart, M. Baller, S. Magonov, A Nanomechanical Device Based on Linear Molecular Motors, Appl. Phys. Lett. 2004, 85, 5391–5193. DOI: 10.1063/1.1826222
  • C. P. Collier, J. O. Jeppesen, Y. Luo, J. Perkins, E. W. Wong, J. R. Heath, J. F. Stoddart, Molecular-Based Electronically Switchable Tunnel Junction Devices, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2001, 123, 12632–12641. DOI: 10.1021/ja0114456
  • V. Balzani, A. Credi, F. M. Raymo, J. F. Stoddart, Artificial Molecular Machines, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2000, 39, 3348–3391. DOI: 10.1002/1521-3773(20001002)39:19<3348::AID-ANIE3348>3.0.CO;2-X
  • C. P. Collier, G. Mattersteig, E. W. Wong, Y. Luo, K. Beverly, J. Sampaio, F. M. Raymo, J. F. Stoddart, J. R. Heath, A [2]Catenane-Based Solid State Electronically Reconfigurable Switch, Science 2000, 289, 1172–1175. DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5482.1172
  • C. P. Collier, E. W. Wong, M. Belohradský, F. M. Raymo, J. F. Stoddart, P. J. Kuekes, R. S. Williams, J. R. Heath, Electronically Configurable Molecular-Based Logic Gates, Science 1999, 285, 391–394. DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5426.391
  • R. Ballardini, V. Balzani, A. Credi, M. T. Gandolfi, S. J. Langford, S. Menzer, L. Prodi, J. F. Stoddart, M. Venturi, D. J. Williams, Simple Molecular Machines: Chemically Driven Unthreading and Rethreading of a [2]pseudorotaxane, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 1996, 35, 978–981. DOI: 10.1002/anie.199609781
  • D. B. Amabilino, C. Dietrich-Buchecker, A. Livoreil, L. Perez-Garcia, J.-P. Sauvage, J. F. Stoddart, A Switchable Hybrid [2]-Catenane Based on Transition Metal Complexation and π-Electron Donor-Acceptor Interactions, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1996, 118, 3905–3913. DOI: 10.1021/ja954329+
  • R. A. Bissell, E. Córdova, A. E. Kaifer, J. F. Stoddart, A Chemically and Electrochemically Switchable Molecular Shuttle, Nature 1994, 369, 133–137. DOI: 10.1038/369133a0
  • P. L. Anelli, N. Spencer, J. F. Stoddart, A Molecular Shuttle, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1991, 113, 5131–5133. DOI: 10.1021/ja00013a096
  • B. Odell, M. V. Reddington, A. M. Z. Slawin, N. Spencer, J. F. Stoddart, D. J. Williams, Cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene). A Tetracationic Multipurpose Receptor, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 1988, 27, 1547–1550. DOI: 10.1002/anie.198815471

Selected Publications by Bernard L. Feringa

  • M. Vlatković, B. S. L. Collins, B. L. Feringa, Dynamic Responsive Systems for Catalytic Function, Chem. Eur. J. 2016. DOI: 10.1002/chem.201602453
  • T. van Leeuwen, J. Gan, J. C. M. Kistemaker, S. F. Pizzolato, M.-C. Chang, B. L. Feringa, Enantiopure Functional Molecular Motors Obtained by a Switchable Chiral-Resolution Process, Chem. Eur. J. 2016, 22, 7054–7058. DOI: 10.1002/chem.201600628
  • M. M. Lerch, M. J. Hansen, G. M. van Dam, W. Szymanski, B. L. Feringa, Emerging Targets in Photopharmacology, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 10978–10999. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201601931
  • J. Vachon, G. T. Carroll, M. M. Pollard, E. M. Mes, A. M. Brouwer, B. L. Feringa, An Ultrafast Surface-Bound Photo-Active Molecular Motor, Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2014, 13, 241–246. DOI: 10.1039/C3PP50208B
  • B. L. Feringa, W. R. Browne (Eds.), Molecular Switches, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2011. ISBN: 978-3-527-31365-5
  • N. Ruangsupapichat, M. M. Pollard, S. R. Harutyunyan, B. L. Feringa, Reversing the Direction in a Light-Driven Rotary Molecular Motor, Nat. Chem. 2011, 3, 53–60. DOI: 10.1038/nchem.872
  • Tibor Kudernac, Nopporn Ruangsupapichat, Manfred Parschau, Beatriz Maciá, Nathalie Katsonis, Syuzanna R. Harutyunyan, Karl-Heinz Ernst, Ben L. Feringa, Electrically driven directional motion of a four-wheeled molecule on a metal surface, Nature 2011, 479 (7372), 208. DOI: 10.1038/nature10587
  • R. Eelkema, M. M. Pollard, J. Vicario, N. Katsonis, B. S. Ramon, C. W. M. Bastiaansen, D. J. Broer, B. L. Feringa, Molecular Machines: Nanomotor Rotates Microscale Objects, Nature 2006, 440, 163–163. DOI: 10.1038/440163a
  • W. R. Browne, B. L. Feringa, Making Molecular Machines Work, Nat. Nanotechn. 2006, 1, 25–35. DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2006.45
  • R. A. van Delden, M. K. J. ter Wiel, M. M. Pollard, J. Vicario, N. Koumura, B. L. Feringa, Unidirectional Molecular Motor on a Gold Surface, Nature 2005, 437, 1337–1340. DOI: 10.1038/nature04127
  • S. P. Fletcher, F. Dumur, M. M. Pollard, B. L. Feringa, A Reversible, Unidirectional Molecular Rotary Motor Driven by Chemical Energy, Science 2005, 310, 80–82. DOI: 10.1126/science.1117090
  • J. H. van Esch, B. L. Feringa, New Functional Materials Based on Self-Assembling Organogels: From Serendipity towards Design, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2000, 39, 2263–2266. DOI: 10.1002/1521-3773(20000703)39:13<2263::AID-ANIE2263>3.0.CO;2-V
  • N. Koumura, R. W. J. Zijlstra, R. A. van Delden, N. Harada, B. L. Feringa, Light-Driven Monodirectional Molecular Rotor, Nature 1999, 401, 152–155. DOI: 10.1038/43646

(marked articles are free-to-read till end of the year)

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