Nobel Prize winners names leaked before final decision
A trigger-happy Nobel Academy employee apparently hit send a bit too early this week, revealing the names of the 2023 award winners in Chemistry – before a final vote had even taken place, the prestigious institution said Wednesday.
The three winners, Moungi G. Bawendi from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Louis E. Brus from New York’s Columbia University, and Alexei I. Ekimov of Nanocrystals Technology Inc. in upstate New York, were awarded the prize “for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots.”
The trio was unaware that a press release announcing their names had been inadvertently leaked to two major Swedish newspapers before the final vote.
After hearing of the award, Bawendi told the media he was "very surprised, sleepy, shocked, unexpected and very honored."
Historically, an independent committee from The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is tasked with making the final decision based off the Nobel Foundation’s strict nominee process.
"It was very unfortunate that the press release got out and we still don't know why it happened," said Hans Ellegren, the Nobel academy's secretary general.
Ellegren said the leak did not affect the choice of laureates.
Currently, nanoparticle-sized quantum dots are used to illuminate everyday items such as computer monitors and LED TV screens. Biochemists and doctors use the quantum dots to map biological tissue, the Nobel announcement states.
One of the "fascinating and unusual properties" of quantum dots is that they change light color depending on the particle size, while keeping the atomic structure unchanged, said Johan Aqvist, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.
In the future, the prized research could help develop flexible electronics, tiny sensors, thinner solar cells, and encrypted quantum communication, the Academy says.
The research enabled LEDs also shine more like natural sunlight, avoiding the bluish light they are normally known for.
The shared prize is worth 11 million Swedish crowns or $1 million US dollars.
“The candidates eligible for the Chemistry Prize are those nominated by qualified persons who have received an invitation from the Nobel Committee to submit names for consideration, the Foundation states. It is forbidden to nominate oneself.
The Secretary General told Bloomberg News that the academy plans to open an investigation to determine the cause of the leak.
“We have been this morning very active trying to find out what actually happened,” but as of yet “we don’t know that,” Ellegren told Bloomberg.
The full list of Nobel winners will be announced by the Academy in Stockholm on October 9th.
The Nobel Peace prize will be announced separately by the Norwegian Nobel Academy in Oslo on October 6th.
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