The Nobel Prizes awarded, this month, in both Chemistry and Physics had some things in common. Both involved scientific breakthroughs involving light, as well as distance scales so small that quantum mechanical behavior is essential to understand the science.
Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2023 for the discovery and development of quantum dots (QD). These tiny particles have unique properties and are now utilized in television screens and LED lighting. QD catalyse chemical reactions and their controllable light can illuminate tumour tissue for surgery.
The three Nobel Prize laureates in physics 2023 were recognized for their experiments, which have created new tools for exploring the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules. They have demonstrated a way to create extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy.
These two prizes illustrate how, at a small enough scale, physics and chemistry are intimately intertwined and physicists and chemists often benefit from each other’s work. Physicists can develop tools like ultrafast light pulses that reveal the interactions that bind molecules together, and chemists can perform the experiments that realize the predictions of quantum physics.
Read more about the commonalities of the two awards, here.
All images: © Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences