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“The internet of things” is said to be the next big frontier for technology firms. A variety of small devices are always on and always connected. These devices permeate our lives at an ever increasing rate, bringing with them a demand for new and innovative mobile energy sources. One of the most promising candidates is thermoelectric power; a technology that would allow us to harvest one of the most ubiquitous energy sources available to us, our body heat.
Ben Feringa is a Professor in Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen and the pioneer of rotary molecular motors, the smallest machines in the world of the size of individual molecules.
In 2016, Prof Feringa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on synthetic chemistry, leading to the design and synthesis of novel molecules and nanomaterials, with machine-like functions. These molecular nanomachines can respond to stimuli from their environment, be employed in the self-assembly of nanostructures or regulate DNA transcription, with potential applications in the medical field and targeted treatments.
Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."