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A Nobel Prize for Bawendi

The MIT chemist shares the award for his work on quantum dots.

January 4, 2024
Moungi Bawendi in a dark room outstretching his hands towards a series of vials glowing in rainbow color
Len Rubenstein

Moungi Bawendi, a leader in the development of quantum dots, won the 2023 Nobel Prize in chemistry along with Louis Brus of Columbia University and Alexei Ekimov of Nanocrystals Technology.

Quantum dots are bits of semiconductor material so small that they are governed in part by the laws of quantum mechanics. When illuminated with ultraviolet light, the dots fluoresce in a range of colors determined by their sizes. Ekimov and Brus independently created quantum dots in the early 1980s, but Bawendi and his students were the first to report a method for maintaining precise control over their size.

At the time, the researchers were interested in making quantum dots just so they could further study their unique properties. But the particles are now used in many types of biomedical imaging, as well as computer and television displays, and they also hold potential in fields such as quantum computing.

Bawendi, 62, who was born in Paris and grew up in Indiana, was educated at Harvard and the University of Chicago and has been at MIT since 1990.

“It’s hard to think of a more elegant expression of Mind and Hand,” President Sally Kornbluth wrote about Bawendi’s work in a letter to the MIT community when the award was announced. 

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