Moungi Bawendi becomes first scientist of Tunisian origin to win Nobel Prize
Bawendi won the prestigious award collectively with Louis Brus and Aleksey Ekimov for their discovery of tiny clusters of atoms known as quantum dots, which are used to create colours in flat screens, light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, and devices that help surgeons see blood vessels in tumours.
The quantum dots are an artificially created collection of extremely small semiconducting nanoparticles that glow blue, red or green when exposed to light.
The Royal Academy of Sciences stated that the research of the three US-based scientists on quantum dots can contribute to "flexible electronics, tiny sensors, thinner solar cells and encrypted quantum communication" in the future.
This means that thanks to Bawendi and his colleagues' work on custom-made quantum dots, there is a plethora of commercial and scientific uses to come.
Bawendi said he felt "very surprised, sleepy, shocked, unexpected and very honoured" to be given the award.
Co-winner Brus, added that the news was so unexpected that he ignored the first half a dozen phone calls he received from various people who attempted to share the news with him.
BREAKING NEWS— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 4, 2023
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2023 #NobelPrize in Chemistry to Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov “for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots.” pic.twitter.com/qJCXc72Dj8
On Wednesday, the academy inadvertently released the names of the Nobel chemistry prize winners, displaying Bawendi, Brus and Ekimov’s names in an email that went public.
Johan Aqvist, chair of the academy's Nobel committee for chemistry, had told Reuters at the time: "It is a mistake by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Our meeting starts at 0930 CET (0730 GMT) so no decision has been made yet. The winners have not been selected."
Bawendi is an American chemist of Tunisian descent, who was born in Paris in 1961 to mathematician Mohamed Salah Bounty and Hélène Poupart.
Spending his childhood years in France and Tunisia, his father then immigrated to America where Bawendi received a master’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.
Since 2008, Bawendi has co-taught thermodynamics and kinetics with Professor Keith Nelson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
As a leading participant in the field of colloidal quantum dot research, Bawendi is one of the most cited chemists of the past decade.