Molecular Machine Days

The three scientists awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be on the stage of the Aula Magna di Santa Lucia on Thursday, 22 November for a conference/show together with Vincenzo Balzani and Alma Mater Rector Francesco Ubertini. Patrizio Roversi will host the event. Free entry until seats run out.

22 November 2018

Aula Magna Santa Lucia

An extraordinary journey in the company of four outstanding scientists: Nobel Laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Bernard L. Feringa and Alma Mater professor emeritus Vincenzo Balzani.

Thursday, 22 November at 5 pm, in the Aula Magna di Santa Lucia, the University of Bologna will open its doors for a conference/show all about molecular machines: sophisticated devices about the size of a billionth of a meter that - according to many - will soon be at the centre of a new industrial revolution.

The free event will be hosted by Patrizio Roversi, offering a unique opportunity to plunge into the microscopic world of molecular machines in the company of the scientists who first conceived of and created them.

For their fundamental studies that led to the creation of the first artificial molecular machines, Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2016. Here at the University of Bologna, Vincenzo Balzani launched what soon would become a tradition of studies on supramolecular chemistry and photochemistry, which over the years have led to important, internationally recognized results. Thanks in part to European funding, this commitment continues today in the Centre for Photoactivated Nanostructures: a joint laboratory between the University of Bologna and the National Research Council, led by Professor Alberto Credi. For this reason, Alma Mater Rector Francesco Ubertini will be on stage in the Aula Magna di Santa Lucia with Alberto Credi.

Molecular machines are widespread in nature (there are an estimated 10,000 different types in the human body alone) and their work is essential to the existence of all living beings. Every human action - walking, talking, thinking - is the result of a myriad of sub-actions and movements on a molecular level. Artificially constructing these devices, however, is far from simple.  Almost sixty years ago, the great physicist Richard Feynman was the first to suggest that it may be possible to create such tiny machines, but concrete results came only in the 1980s: first with the studies of Sauvage and Stoddart, with whom Balzani has worked for years, and then with the efforts of Feringa.

Today, in laboratories all over the world, scientists are building molecular pincers, molecular shuttles, molecular lifts and even microscopic rotating motors: incredibly small machines that move thanks to chemical stimuli or even electric light. To do what? To create biomolecules directly inside an organism, to give rise to a new generation of powerful chemical computers, to generate drugs that activate only in the right place and at the right time, to build artificial muscles, to efficiently generate solar power, and so on.

The conference/show in the Aula Magna di Santa Lucia will be the flagship of a two-day event in Bologna for Sauvage, Stoddart and Feringa. On the morning of Wednesday, 21 November, the three scientists will greet the Mayor of Bologna at Palazzo d'Accursio and, after a visit to the Accademia delle Scienze, in the afternoon they will meet with students at the Alma Mater’s Department of Chemistry “Giacomo Ciamician”. The morning of Thursday, 22 November will be dedicated to a scientific workshop hosted by the CNR Research Area of Bologna. Then, from 5 pm, the open event in the Aula Magna di Santa Lucia will mark the end the tour of the three Nobel Laureates in Bologna.

The conference/show is organized by Alberto Credi and Margherita Venturi (University of Bologna) and by Roberto Zamboni (National Research Council) with the support of: Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna; Department of Chemistry “G. Ciamician”; Department of Industrial Chemistry “Toso Montanari”; Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences; the National Research Council; and the European Research Council (ERC, LEAPS project).

Published on: 09 November 2018