MIT Chemist Moungi Bawendi Shares Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Moungi Bawendi, the Lester Wolfe Professor of Chemistry at MIT, has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2023. He will share the prize with Louis Brus of Columbia University and Alexei Ekimov of Nanocrystals Technology.

Bawendi is a pioneer in the development of quantum dots: tiny particles of matter that emit exceptionally pure light. These particles, a special type of semiconducting nanocrystals, have been incorporated into  technologies such as biomedical imaging and computer and television displays.

In its announcement this morning, the Nobel Foundation cited Bawendi for work that “revolutionized the chemical production of quantum dots, resulting in almost perfect particles.”

Quantum dots consist of tiny particles of semiconductor material that are so small that their properties differ from those of the bulk material; they are governed in part by the laws of quantum mechanics that describe how atoms and subatomic particles behave. When illuminated with ultraviolet light, the dots fluoresce brightly in a range of colors determined by the sizes of the particles.

In 1993, Bawendi and his students were the first to report a method for synthesizing quantum dots while maintaining precise control over their size. Since then, he has also devised ways to control the efficiency of the dots’ light emission and to eliminate their tendency to blink on and off, making them more practical for applications in many fields.

This article will be updated during the day. Originally published in MIT News on October 4, 2023. Photos courtesy of Jodi Hilton and Len Rubenstein.

Moungi Bawendi is the Lester Wolfe Professor of Chemistry at MIT.
Moungi Bawendi at his home, shortly after receiving the news about his Nobel Prize win.
Moungi Bawendi and his wife, Rachel Zimmerman, at home shortly after receiving the news about the Nobel Prize.
Moungi Bawendi
Moungi Bawendi, with stepdaughter Julie Teller and dog Phoebe in the background, shortly after receiving the news about his Nobel Prize win.

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