Nobel Prize-winning chemist to speak at UWM Sept. 29

Dutch chemist and Nobel laureate Bernard Feringa will give a public lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday, Sept. 29, on how he made important components for powering future nanomachines and nanorobots.

The free event, “The Art of Building Small, from Molecular Switches to Motors,” begins at 2:45 p.m. in room N140 of Lubar Hall, 3202 N. Maryland Ave.

Bernard Feringa

Feringa’s work earned him a share the 2016 Nobel Prize in chemistry. With Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, he was recognized for contributions to the design and synthesis of molecular-scale machines.

His appearance has a local connection. UWM Associate Professor Alexander “Leggy” Arnold worked under Feringa at the University of Groningen from 1996 to 2002 while Arnold was earning his master’s and doctoral degrees.

Feringa draws inspiration from how human cells do work that supports our organs, such as repairing damage. Like the other two laureates, he figured out how to convert chemical energy into mechanical motion in synthetic molecules. This made it possible for them to construct devices a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair that can change shape in response to certain aspects of their environment.

Their discoveries have a wide range of applications, from self-healing materials to smart drug delivery.

Feringa is the Jacobus van ’t Hoff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Sciences at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, and chair of the board of the science division of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. He holds more than 30 patents.

He will also speak at a private gathering Friday night as part of the 44th annual University of Wisconsin System chemistry faculties meeting, hosted by UWM. The meeting is sponsored by Shimadzu and Eurofins.

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