Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to 3 Researchers

Oct. 4, 2023
Three U.S.-based scientists were awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots, particles now used extensively in technology and medical applications.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2023 to Moungi G. Bawendi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts; Louis E. Brus, Columbia University, New York City; and Alexei I. Ekimov, Nanocrystals Technology Inc., New York City “for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots.”

The Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2023 have succeeded in producing particles so small that their properties are determined by quantum phenomena. The particles, which are called quantum dots, are now of great importance in nanotechnology.

“Quantum dots have many fascinating and unusual properties. Importantly, they have different colors depending on their size,” says Johan Åqvist, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

Physicists had long known that in theory, size-dependent quantum effects could arise in nanoparticles, but at that time it was almost impossible to sculpt in nanodimensions. Therefore, few people believed this knowledge would be put to practical use.

However, in the early 1980s, Alexei Ekimov succeeded in creating size-dependent quantum effects in colored glass. The color came from nanoparticles of copper chloride and Ekimov demonstrated that the particle size affected the color of the glass via quantum effects.

A few years later, Louis Brus was the first scientist in the world to prove size-dependent quantum effects in particles floating freely in a fluid.

In 1993, Moungi Bawendi revolutionized the chemical production of quantum dots, resulting in almost perfect particles. This high quality was necessary for them to be utilized in applications.

As a result of their research, quantum dots now illuminate computer monitors and television screens based on QLED technology. They also add nuance to the light of some LED lamps, and biochemists and doctors use them to map biological tissue. Researchers believe that in the future, quantum dots could contribute to flexible electronics, tiny sensors, thinner solar cells and encrypted quantum.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, founded in 1739, is an independent organization whose overall objective is to promote the sciences and strengthen their influence in society. The Academy takes special responsibility for the natural sciences and mathematics, but endeavors to promote the exchange of ideas between various disciplines.

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