The Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Molecular Machines, Explained

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir Fraser Stoddart, and Ben Feringa. Read all about it:
↓↓More links and references below↓↓

In this episode of Speaking of Chemistry, we look at how three molecular machinists earned this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Apologies to our international posse: All times referenced in this video are based on us being in the Eastern Time Zone.

For more information on the prize check out:
1.)C&EN’s coverage:

2.)’s announcement:

Videos of the 4-wheeled molecule were used with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Kudernac, T. et al. 2011, Nature 479, 208–211

Want even more molecular-mechanical goodness? You are in luck, my friend. Here are some more great references.

Rethinking Molecular Machines | C&EN

Nanomachinery Gets A Lift | C&EN

Nanocar Research Rolling Along | C&EN

A Nanocar With Four-Wheel Drive | C&EN

Molecular Pump Mimics Natural Carrier Proteins | C&EN

Transition Metal-Containing Rotaxanes and Catenanes in Motion | Accounts of Chemical Research

A molecular shuttle | JACS

Light-driven monodirectional molecular rotor | Nature

A [3]Rotaxane with Two Porphyrinic Plates Acting as an Adaptable Receptor | JACS

A Three-Compartment Chemically-Driven Molecular Information Ratchet | JACS

Speaking of Chemistry is brought to you by Chemical & Engineering News, the news magazine of the American Chemical Society.

Find us on all these places:

Food fraud often boils down to politics or semantics. Something labeled parmesan cheese may not come from Parma, for instance. But sometimes food producers try to feed us cheap fillers and other lies. In this episode of Speaking of Chemistry, Sophia Cai explains how scientists, regulators, and food makers are relying on chemistry to make sure consumers get what they pay for.

Want to learn even more about fighting food fraud? Check out these great resources.

Parmesan test can detect cheesy imposters | C&EN

Autheticating Food | C&EN

Food Safety Gambit | C&EN

The Parmesan Cheese You Sprinkle on Your Penne Could Be Wood |Bloomberg

Guilty pleas filed in federal criminal fake cheese cases | Food Safety News

FDA warning letter to Castle Cheese, Inc. | FDA

The EU tries to grab all the cheese | Politico

Parmesan and Gouda May Shred a New US Trade Agreement With Europe | Vice News

Testing for Food Contamination | Biocompare

Want even more Speaking of Chemistry?
Like us on facebook:
And drop us a line at

Speaking of Chemistry is brought to you by Chemical & Engineering News, the news magazine of the American Chemical Society.

Find us on all these places:

Music credits (in order of audibility):
1. Triage by bhzimmy
2. join us by aricorder  
3.Libiamo Ne’ Lieti Calici- Verdi by cssmusic
4.Chill Babe by FullScore
Video Rating: / 5


  1. murali Varaprasad Ande says:

    Exciting. Molecular motors will have applications in Kidney disease in particular Dialysis. In combination with Internet of Things and connected devices the life of dialysis and Kidney patients can be improved significantly. In biological systems typically Kinesin molecules act as molecular motors and the molecules walk along the micro-tubules inside a living cell carrying with them the cargo say a protein or a vesicle sac. Attempts are being made to mimic these natural biological molecular motors for health care applications. Attempts to connect the molecular motor devices and the IoT have been ublished in recent IEEE publication and a schematic of the IoT connected molecular motors

  2. Sharon Alderman says:

    Very cool!

  3. Sameen Ahmed Khan says:

    Heartiest Congratulations!!!

    Let us note that James Fraser Stoddart received the 2007 King Faisal International Prize for Science
    (in the subcategory of Chemistry) unshared.  Over the thirty-eight years (1979-2016), 54 scholars
    from 12 countries have received the KFIP in Science. The science subcategories cover a broad scope:
    physics; mathematics; chemistry; and biology by rotation cycle of four years.  To date there are
    18 KFIP laureates who also received Nobel Prizes (mostly after the KFIP).  There are two KFIP
    laureates (in Mathematics) who are also recipients of the Fields Medal.  I hope the Science Magazines
    will not hesitate to cover the prestigious KFIP scheduled to be announced in January 2017. 
    Additional detail at

    With warm regards + best wishes

    Sameen Ahmed KHAN
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Mathematics and Sciences
    College of Arts and Applied Sciences (CAAS)
    Dhofar University
    Sultanate of OMAN

  4. D3adGoon says:

    fingers crossed that the same narrative will follow these machines as planes did with the Wright Brothers.

  5. Victor Silas says:

    As a mechanical engineer I can say that the most fundamental requirement to create any machine is to crate mechanical linkage. If any one could able to create a mechanical linkage in molecular lever then there is a vast world yet to discover. Many science fiction will no longer considered a fiction. And we are about to experience the most finest cutting edge technology mankind ever seen.

  6. Spatz Sturm says:

    obama got the nobel prize w/o doing anything for.
    since this day, i lost the respect for this prize.

    but still a cool invention :D

  7. Justin Huberts says:

    This is just the chemistry variety of a motor protein. How ingenious!

  8. Omer Magen says:

    I love this channel…

  9. M Hassan Munir says:

    Why we are unable to identify it's applications. just why?

  10. Ivo Temelkov says:

    So, we can now make machines which do work using nothing but the energy inside themselves. No motors, no engines, nothing. Just put some atoms together in a weird way and you get free work! YAY SCIENCE!!!!

  11. Iza Kamińska says:

    It's funny. I'm sure that most of the work was done by their Ph.D. students, as usual in science.

  12. Elliot Grey says:


  13. Munashiimaru says:

    Someone needs to invent a molecular machine that takes every day molecules and turns them into more of itself.

  14. Subhadeep Mandal says:

    This invention can bring a revolution,a change that can change the future.lots of things will be possible

  15. Vaysm says:

    This is seriously cool. You guys are super underrated.

  16. 500features says:

    People didn't know what to do with Wright brothers' flying machine? Come on now.

  17. Laura Gutierrez says:

    Nice video! I'm a Chemical Engineering student at the University of Groningen. It was an exciting day for us all!

  18. ZomeaterWWZ says:

    this channel is awesome.

  19. Rich Marceau says:

    Could not such machines be made to build otherwise difficult to manufacture molecules in bulk? Ibogaine comes to mind.

  20. Eugene. L says:

    wow cool

  21. Jonathon Dunn says:

    She made me cringe every time she said the full name of Parmesan.

  22. MindSponge says:

    Makes me wonder how much of the American diet is imposter food. More than I probably want to know

  23. xja85mac says:

    If your mind is blown by the fact that Europe protects typical food so much, and that Italy in particular has the most protected denominations there, then you should understand that this is because we have the most amazing food in the world and we must protect it.
    Not much surprise that there is a consortium to protect Parmigiano Reggiano: there are similar institutions for less known typical foods; not much surprise they devised a method for detecting frauds: there are analytical methods for pretty much every protected denomination.
    If you protect it, you must detect it!

  24. Anton Arkhipov says:

    Her pronunciation makes me cry.

  25. C0d0ps says:

    Spaghetti bolognese is the best spaghetti.
    Get on Europe's level, America.

  26. VHFILM says:

    Just a plain and simple, Thank You 😉 , – Ralph Turchiano

  27. clawhammr666 says:

    And i'm just sitting here thinking, people eat cheese with spaghetti/pasta?

  28. curldivgrad says:

    she is a hottie! brains and beauty <3

  29. xBris says:

    The way she pronounces Parmesan is just terrible. My stomach hurts each time she says it. And she says it a lot. Whyyyyyy, whyyyyyy? :(

  30. [Subjektnamen hier eingeben] says:

    Oh my god, we are completely screwed! It's the wrong type of fermented cow's mother milk!

  31. Kees de Groot says:

    Can you not pronounce it the Italian way, America?!

  32. Kelvin D says:

    Did you know that around 50% of your poop is dead bacteria? Spread the word!

  33. Joocelyn says:

    so would it be vegan :o

  34. Holobrine says:

    Who cares? As long as it's still cheese and tastes good I'm game.

  35. AL_O0 says:

    Why you don't translate a lot of Italian names that could easily be translated?!??

  36. Dylan T says:

    go vegan

  37. Carrotttt says:

    If you've seen Wayne's World you already know that Champagne thing

  38. morenauer says:

    Here in Japan, there's no real cheese in grocery stores at all anymore. It's either made from whey or it has an insane amount of cellulose (in other words, you're eating cardboard with your cheese). I can't believe they allow the sale of this shit.

  39. Lasse Gaardsholt says:

    Am I the only one that can see a small video/audio off sync whenever she is talking?

  40. John Smith says:

    who cares?

Leave a Reply