Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: For a restricted bunch of people, it is merely a distinguished award but for many across the globe, it is something as great as the Wright Brothers invention a century back.
The 2016 Nobel prize for Chemistry went to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa for developing world's smallest machines.
The trio shared the coveted prize for molecular machines that are believed to be thousand times thinner than a hair strand, taking Chemistry to a new dimension altogether.
What is a Molecular machine?
A molecular machine or nanomachine is defined as any discrete number of molecular components that produce quasi-mechanical movements in response to specific stimuli.
Molecular machines can be divided into two broad categories; synthetic and biological.
Some simple examples of molecular machines are synthesised by chemists are molecular motors, molecular sensors, molecular logic gate etc.
Contribution to Chemistry:
All three Nobel laureates along with some other researchers have been instrumental in creating around 60 varieties of molecular machine in the past 20 years.
Out of these, some are switches, rotors, knots, pumps and shuttles all at the subject's smallest scale.
These machines would be most likely used in the development of things such as sensors, energy storage systems and new material.
The Nobel laureates have developed molecules with controllable movements that are capable of performing tasks when energy is added to them.
These molecular machines could very well slip inside the human body in future to deliver drugs from within. For example using pharmaceuticals directly to kill cancer cells.
So, how about a world run by molecular machines that are small in size but would have a significant impact on aspects of our lives?