Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to 3 Scientists for Work With Quantum Dots


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Wednesday to Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov for the discovery and development of quantum dots, nanoparticles so small that their size determines their properties.

Quantum dots, described by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences as the “smallest components of nanotechnology,” are used in LED-lights and television screens and can help guide surgeons as they remove cancer tissue.

“For a long time nobody thought you could ever actually make such small particles,” Johan Aqvist, the chair of the Academy’s Nobel committee for chemistry, said at a news conference announcing the 2023 laureates. Presenting the topic with five colorful flasks lined up in front of him that he said contained quantum dots in a liquid solution, he said: “But this year’s laureates succeeded.”

Dr. Bawendi is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Brus is a professor emeritus at Columbia University, and Dr. Ekimov works for Nanocrystals Technology, a company based in New York State.

The news of the laureates’ expected win had been reported earlier Wednesday morning in the Swedish news media, a highly unusual leak that was then reported by Reuters and The Associated Press several hours before the official announcement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prize.

The Swedish news outlets cited what they said was an email from the Academy that had been mistakenly sent early. Reuters quoted Dr. Aqvist as saying, “It is a mistake by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.” He noted that the committee’s meeting was due to start at 9:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. Eastern) and added, “so no decision has been made yet. The winners have not been selected.”

The prize went to Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless for work on click chemistry.

  • On Monday, the prize in Physiology or Medicine went to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for a chemical modification to messenger RNA. The tweak led to the successful development of Covid-19 vaccines and saved millions of lives. Dr. Karikó is the 13th woman to win the Nobel Prize in this category.

  • On Tuesday, the prize in Physics was awarded to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier for techniques that illuminate the subatomic realm of electrons. Dr. L’Huillier is the fifth woman to be chosen for a Nobel in this category.

  • The Nobel Prize in Literature will be awarded on Thursday by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. Last year, Annie Ernaux was given the prize for work that dissected the most humiliating, private and scandalous moments from her past with almost clinical precision.

  • The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo. Last year, the prize was shared by Memorial, a Russian organization; the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine; and Ales Bialiatski, a jailed Belarusian activist.

  • Next week, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences will be awarded on Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. Last year, Ben S. Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond and Philip H. Dybvig shared the prize for work that helped to reshape how the world understands the relationship between banks and financial crises.

All of the prize announcements are streamed live by the Nobel Prize organization.


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