Royal Society Fellow wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016

05 October 2016

Sir J. Fraser Stoddart FRS has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 for the design and synthesis of molecular machines. He shares the prize with Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Bernard L. Feringa.

Sir Martyn Poliakoff CBE FRS, Vice President and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, who is a chemist, said:

“It is wonderful news that Royal Society Fellow, Professor Sir J. Fraser Stoddart FRS, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year. We offer congratulations to him and to Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Bernard L. Feringa, who share the prize, on this great achievement. Their work demonstrates the potential for chemists to construct tiny molecules which behave like machines, moving in response to a stimulus. These minute machines have laid the groundwork for potential future applications in a range of fields, from health to the miniaturisation of smart devices.”

James Fraser Stoddart is a chemist who has developed techniques to synthesise molecules that are connected via mechanical means. His pioneering work on the design and manufacture of an entirely new class of chemical compounds has great potential in the field of nanoscale engineering.

Among the structures Fraser has found a way to synthesise more efficiently are molecular rings that interlock with each other or else are threaded along an axis. Mechanical devices such as these can be used in the construction of switches, sensors and motors that are smaller than a human cell, leaving considerable scope for medical applications.

The development of what he refers to as ‘molecular meccano’ has won him numerous fellowships and awards, including the Davy Medal of the Royal Society. In 2007, he was awarded a knighthood for his services to chemistry and molecular nanotechnology.

The Nobel Prize in Physics was also announced this week. Royal Society Fellows, Professor Frederick Duncan M. Haldane FRS and Professor David J. Thouless FRS were two of the recipients for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.