BIGGER is not always better. Anyone who doubts that has only to look at the explosion of computing power that has marked the past half-century. This was made possible by continual shrinkage of the components from which those computers are made—and that success has, in turn, inspired a search for other areas where shrinkage might also yield dividends.
One such, which has been poised delicately between hype and hope since the 1990s, is nanotechnology. Though what people mean by this has changed over the years—to the extent that cynics might be forgiven for wondering if it is more than just a fancy rebranding of the word “chemistry”—nanotechnology did originally have a fairly clear definition. It was the idea that machines with moving parts could be made on a molecular scale. And this year’s Nobel prize for chemistry has been awarded to three researchers, Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa, who have never lost sight of that original definition.
Dr Sauvage’s contribution was to link atoms together in a new and potentially useful way. Conventional molecules are held together by bonds in which electrons…Continue reading
Source: New feed