Volume 86 Issue 4 | p. 16 | News of The Week
Issue Date: January 28, 2008

Wolf Chemistry Prizes Announced

Award recognizes new field of single-molecule spectroscopy and imaging
Department: ACS News
Moerner
Credit: Sharon S. Moerner
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Moerner
Credit: Sharon S. Moerner
Bard
Credit: Marsha Miller/UT Austin
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Bard
Credit: Marsha Miller/UT Austin

THE ISRAEL-BASED Wolf Foundation has awarded its 2008 Prize in Chemistry to William E. Moerner, Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University, and to Allen J. Bard, Hackerman-Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry at the University of Texas, Austin, for creating the field of single-molecule spectroscopy and imaging. They will share the $100,000 prize.

"By pushing optical detection to the ultimate limit of one molecule, these scientists have changed our understanding of the chemistry and physics of individual molecules," the Wolf Foundation awards jury states.

Moerner was the first person to perform optical detection and spectroscopy of a single individual molecule in condensed matter, the foundation says. Bard, it says, pioneered the development of the scanning electrochemical microscope, allowing high-resolution chemical imaging of surfaces and the study of chemical reactions at the nanoscopic scale.

"It is very gratifying that today so many new scientists continue to enter the field to apply single-molecule studies to biological systems and even to living cells," Moerner says. "I continue to be amazed at what can be learned about DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes, and complex materials simply by using local probes and observing their individual behaviors. Each molecule tells us a story, and our challenge is to interpret what they are saying to obtain a deeper understanding."

"High-resolution electrochemistry has led to important new insights into processes at surfaces and has found applications in many areas, for example in the discovery of electrocatalysts and of processes in single living cells," Bard says. "Single-molecule electrochemistry is still very much a field under development."

The Wolf Prizes are sometimes referred to as the Israeli Nobels. Five are awarded annually to outstanding scientists and artists "for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples." In addition to the chemistry prize, awards are given in agriculture, mathematics, medicine, physics, and the arts.

Israel President Shimon Peres will present the awards at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 25. The Wolf Prizes were established by the late German-born inventor, diplomat, and philanthropist Ricardo Wolf.

 
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