September 6, 2016

Ben Feringa

L2Bernard Lucas “Ben” Feringa – laureate of 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry – synthetic chemist, specializing in molecular nanotechnology and homogeneous catalysis. Ben Feringa holds over 30 patents and has published over 750 peer reviewed research papers to date, cited more than 40 000 times and has an h-index in excess of 101. He has guided over 100 PhD students over his career.

His research performance is so exceptional that he is generally regarded as one of the world’s most creative and productive chemists. He has achieved breakthroughs in various fields of chemistry, including organic synthesis, catalysis, supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology.

His discovery in 1999 of the ‘molecular motor’, a light-driven rotating molecule, is widely recognized as a world-class breakthrough. The potential applications of this concept are as numerous as they are spectacular. The idea that molecular motors can transport themselves through the bloodstream, in order to deliver drugs to previously unreachable locations in the human body with a high degree of accuracy, is particularly inspiring. This work has been laying the ground-work for a key component of future molecular nanotechnology i.e. nanomachines and nanorobots powered by molecular motors.

Feringa has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 2004 Spinoza Prize, the highest Dutch prize in science. In 2011 he received the Van’t Hoff medal. In May 2013 he was awarded a TOP grant for his research on molecular motors. In 2013 Feringa was awarded the Lilly European Distinguished Science Award, followed by the Marie Curie Medal. Also in 2013 he was awarded two important Japanese prizes, in 2014 followed by the prestigious Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society. In 2015 he received the Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize.

What is the secret to success in scientific publishing?

In my opinion a regular number of novel discoveries; the feeling of amazement reading a new issue of a journal and seeing remarkable findings.

What is your advice to young emerging scientists?

Not to be afraid to ask daring questions and to enter into an adventure with chemistry. The molecular world is unlimited and the molecular approach is central in tackling many of the major challenges in science and society ranging from materials and energy carriers to the drugs of the future.