Jean-Pierre Sauvage of France, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart of Scotland and Bernard L. Feringa of the Netherlands were awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday.
The prize, given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, was presented “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.”
“They have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added,” the academy said in a statement.
The French, Scottish and Dutch scientists had developed molecules with controllable movements that can perform tasks when energy is added, the Academy said in a statement awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($931,000) prize.
“The molecular motor is at the same stage as the electric motor was in the 1830s, when scientists displayed various spinning cranks and wheels, unaware that they would lead to electric trains, washing machines, fans and food processors,” it added.
Sauvage is professor emeritus at the University of Strasbourg and director of research emeritus at France’s National Center for Scientific Research.
Stoddart, born in Edinburgh, is professor of chemistry at Northwestern University in the United States, while Feringa is professor in organic chemistry at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
“This is quite unexpected, although it has been in the cards for 25 years, I think. When it happens, it takes your breath away,” Stoddart said in a phone interview, as he watched the ceremony in a live broadcast from his home outside Chicago.
Feringa, when asked his reaction to learning he had won, said: “What I said when I got this message is that I don’t know what to say.”
The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will.