Nobel Prize in Chemistry Winners Revealed in Rare Leak

Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus, Alexei Ekimov honored for their work on quantum dots
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 4, 2023 5:40 AM CDT
Nobel Prize in Chemistry Winners Revealed in Rare Leak
Nobel Committee for Chemistry Heiner Linke, right, presents the work of the winners of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry during a press conference at the Royal Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.   (Claudio Bresciani/TT News Agency via AP)

Two American and one Russian scientist have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on tiny quantum dots—after receiving an accidental early heads-up. Moungi Bawendi of MIT, Louis Brus of Columbia University, and Alexei Ekimov of Nanocrystals Technology Inc., were honored for their work with the tiny particles that are just a few atoms in diameter and whose electrons have constrained movement, per the AP. This effects how they absorb and release visible light, allowing for very bright colors. They are used in many electronics, like LED displays.

"These tiny particles have unique properties and now spread their light from television screens and LED lamps. They catalyze chemical reactions and their clear light can illuminate tumor tissue for a surgeon," according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which announced the award in Stockholm. In a highly unusual turn of events, Swedish media reported the names of the winners before the prize was announced. "There was a press release sent out for still unknown reasons. We have been very active this morning to find out exactly what happened," Hans Ellegren, the secretary-general of the academy, told the news conference where the award was announced, per the AP. "This is very unfortunate, we do regret what happened."

Bawendi told the news conference that he was "very surprised, sleepy, shocked, unexpected and very honored." Asked about the leak, he said he didn't know about the prize until he was called by the academy. Ekimov, 78, and Brus, 80, are early pioneers of the technology, while Bawendi, 62, is credited with revolutionizing the production of quantum dots "resulting in almost perfect particles. This high quality was necessary for them to be utilized in applications," the academy said. (More Nobel Prize stories.)

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