Events The Joy of Discovery: Current Frontiers of Chemical Molecule

Time: Saturday, May 18, 2019 18:30-20:00
Location: Datong Hall, Humanities and Social Sciences Library,Tsinghua University
Speaker: Bernard L. Feringa, 2016 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry

In the 28th Top Talk of Tsinghua University, Bernard L. Feringa’s shared the joy and discovery in his life that began with childhood passion for discovery and evolved into a passion for chemistry and realising the unlimited potential of the nanomolecular world. Mr. Feringa’s sense of humour and wit were enjoyed by the audience, as he highlighted the molecular formula for the human body and jested with the young scientists that they were not much more than water. He explained that whether molecules are simple or complex, in large or small quantities, all are important. Mr. Feringa introduced nanotechnology and nanoproducts such as nano-sensitive sun cream and LCD screens, as well as the bio-nano future of information storage, self-cleaning screens and nano-robots. 

The perspective of the presentation progressed from molecules to motion to dynamic molecular systems. Mr. Feringa explained molecular motors that were the Eureka-moment of his career, as he took inspiration from molecular motors in the human eye to create artificial switches. With his team, Mr. Feringa went on to explore switching rotational to translational motion and invented a single molecule nano-car. As a result of his discoveries, for the first time, scientists now know how to move at the nanoscale. These techniques can ultimately be applied to future nanorobotic bacterial resistance and cancer treatment with smart antibiotics and precision medicine.

In addressing whether the future is science or science fiction, Mr. Feringa detailed the endless possibilities in the molecular world. In navigating one’s individual journey of discovery and unknown adventure, Mr. Feringa shared several sentiments with the audience of young scientists; to discover your talent and energy, follow your dreams and discover your limits. Scientists share a universal language that exists beyond frontiers and brings together a shared passion for discovery with international cooperation. As modern society is only at the beginning of what is to be discovered, it is through this shared passion that scientists can imagine the unimaginable and invent the future together.

By Alice Emily Osborne