The Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2023 has been awarded to three scientists for their contribution to the field of nanotechnology. Let's find out who won and why.
Who won the Nobel Prize?
Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov won the Nobel Prize for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots. The three scientists contributed individually and shared the Nobel.
What are quantum dots?
Quantum dots are the particles of a crystal compound, so small and tiny, that they are governed by the size of the structure rather than the general rules of chemistry. What scientists viewed was that with the change in the size of the crystal, the properties of the crystal also changed. Properties like optical properties, magnetic properties etc were governed by the change in size. For instance, when the size of the crystal was narrowed further and further, the colour of the crystal shifted from red to blue.
How do quantum dots work?
Well, through the use of the quantum mechanics principle, this phenomenon can be explained. From quantum mechanics, it was calculated that the energy of a particle in a one-dimensional box (imaginary) is inversely proportional to the length. From electromagnetism, we are aware that energy is inversely proportional to the wavelength. Hence, the wavelength is directly proportional to the length of the box. So when we decrease the length of the crystal, the wavelength shifts to the narrow range i.e. the wavelength shifts from red to blue colour.
Who discovered quantum dots and who synthesised them?
Alexei Ekimov was the first one to observe the phenomenon. He did so when he was working with coloured glass. He reported that the crystals in the glass showed different colours at different sizes.
Louis Brus was working on another experiment governed by sunlight, to have maximum efficiency he decided to have his crystal layer thin and thin which led to the discovery of quantum dots in liquid state.
Moungi Bawendi in the nineties came up with the Bawendi method to produce quantum dots in laboratories with particular sizes and properties.
Use of the quantum dots
Quantum dots are used in nanotechnology and are seen as a promising factor in the field of biomedical nanotechnology research. These are also used in lamps, technology etc.
Quantum dots might be tiny but the hold they have on the field of nanotechnology is gigantic. These are expected to create better ways to operate on tumour cells and act as nanoparticles. These little particles are all set to create a massive impact on mankind.