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Press Statement 16-009

Chemistry Nobel Prize 2016

NSF director congratulates chemistry Nobel Prize laureates

Molecular lift

The diagram depicts a molecular lift which can raise itself 0.7 nanometers above a surface.

October 5, 2016

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Statement from National Science Foundation Director France Córdova regarding the news that NSF-funded chemist Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University was one of an international group awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry:

The National Science Foundation congratulates today's Nobel Prize winners in chemistry for their extraordinary achievement in designing molecular machines with controllable movements. We are especially proud to recognize the work of Northwestern University's Fraser Stoddart, whose efforts to develop rotaxane -- a molecular structure that represents a revolutionary step in the miniaturization of technology -- our agency helped fund.

Stoddart's ability to move a nano-sized ring up and down the length of a molecular axle demonstrated control of movement at the molecular level, making possible the design and manufacture of molecular staircases, molecular muscles and molecule-based computer chips. Stoddart, and his fellow Nobel Prize awardees -- University of Strasbourg's Jean-Pierre Sauvage and University of Groningen's Bernard Feringa -- have laid the groundwork for new types of molecular motors and an assortment of nanoscale machines.

Today, we offer our heartiest congratulations to this Nobel trio, whose fundamental scientific research will inspire current and future generations of scientists and engineers and expand the frontiers of molecular machinery, possibly creating and manipulating new molecules and sensors and finding new ways to store and conduct energy.


Media Contacts
Ivy F. Kupec, NSF, (703) 292-8796, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, its budget is $8.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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