Russian physicist Aleksey Ekimov, along with American scientist Louis Brus and Tunisian-French chemist Moungi Bawendi, has been awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their groundbreaking discovery and development of quantum dot technology. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences credited the trio for producing particles so small that their properties are determined by quantum phenomena, which has become crucial in the field of nanotechnology.
Aleksey Ekimov’s contribution to this breakthrough began in the 1980s when he was working at the Vavilov State Optical Institute in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He noticed that nanoparticles of copper chloride in colored glass changed color based on their size. By manipulating the size of these nanoparticles through heating, Ekimov found that he could control their color output.
In the 1990s, Louis Brus refined Ekimov’s work by achieving similar results with nanoparticles suspended in fluid. Moungi Bawendi further expanded on their findings by developing a new chemical formula for synthesizing quantum dots, resulting in perfectly-formed particles that are up to 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Today, quantum dot technology is widely used in various industries. It is found in high-definition QLED television screens and monitors, as well as in medical imaging and cancer tumor treatments. The applications of quantum dots are still being explored, and researchers believe they have the potential to contribute to flexible electronics, tiny sensors, thinner solar cells, and encrypted quantum communication.
Louis Brus is now a professor at Columbia University, while Moungi Bawendi holds a professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As for Aleksey Ekimov, he emigrated to the US in 1999 and worked as the chief scientist for Nanocrystals Technology Inc. in New York.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry comes with a $1 million award, which will be shared among the three laureates. The official award ceremony will take place in Stockholm in December, where Swedish King Carl Gustaf XVI will present the prize. However, the Nobel Foundation faced criticism in Russia for disinviting and then re-inviting the Russian, Belarusian, and Iranian ambassadors to Sweden from the ceremony.
The discovery and development of quantum dot technology by these scientists have revolutionized various industries and opened up new possibilities in the world of nanotechnology. Their groundbreaking research and contributions will continue to shape the future of technology and make significant advancements in various fields.