A Nobel Chemistry Prize was awarded to three American researchers on Wednesday, October 4, for their pioneering work in creating minuscule “quantum dots” utilized in the illumination of televisions and lamps. Interestingly, their identities were accidentally disclosed in a premature statement just hours before the official announcement.

A trio of US-based researchers on Wednesday won the Nobel Chemistry Prize for developing tiny “quantum dots” used to illuminate TVs and lamps, hours after a prematurely sent statement revealed their names.

French-born Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus of the United States and Russian-born Alexei Ekimov brought advances on tiny particles that “now spread their light from televisions and LED lamps, and can also guide surgeons when they remove tumor tissue,” the jury said.

But a rare leak led to the winners’ names being mistakenly sent to media outlets hours before they were officially announced, prompting an apology from the awards’ overseers.

Nobel leaks are rare, with the various prize-awarding academies going to great lengths to keep the winners’ names under wraps until the announcements.

Bawendi, 62, born in Paris to French and Tunisian parents, is a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.

Brus, 80, is a professor at Columbia in New York, and Russian-born Alexei Ekimov, 78, was formerly the chief scientist at the US-based Nanocrystals Technology.

According to the jury, physicists had “long known” about the quantum effects that could arise in nanoparticles, but previously it was “impossible to sculpt in nanodimensions.”

In the early 1980s, Ekimov “succeeded in creating size-dependent quantum effects in colored glass,” and a few years later, Brus was the first “to prove size-dependent quantum effects in particles floating freely in a fluid.”

In addition to their current use, they are believed to to be able to contribute to flexible electronics, tiny sensors, thinner solar cells and encrypted communication in the future, with the Academy noting that “we have just started exploring the potential of these tiny particles.”

The trio will share the award of 11 million Swedish kronor (around $1 million) and will receive the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel who created the prizes in his last will and testament.

The chemistry award is the third Nobel of the season after the medicine prize and the physics prizes were announced earlier in the week.

In medicine, RNA researchers Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman were honored Monday for their groundbreaking technology that paved the way for mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.

Khalil Wakim, with AFP