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Tunisian scientist Moungi Bawendi wins Nobel Chemistry Prize

Moungi Bawendi, son of Tunisian mathematician Mohamed Salah Bawendi, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year for his work on quantum dots.

Tunisian-American scientist Moungi Bawendi has made history as the first scientist of Tunisian origin to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Alongside Louis Brus and Aleksey Ekimov, Bawendi was honored for their discovery of quantum dots, diminutive clusters of atoms that have found use in various commercial and scientific applications.

Quantum dots, in layman’s terms, are artificially fabricated tiny semiconducting particles that emit different colors when exposed to light—namely blue, red, or green. These minuscule wonders have contributed to the vivid displays in flat screens, LED lamps, and medical devices designed to aid surgeons in visualizing blood vessels within tumors. Additionally, the Royal Academy of Sciences suggests that their research on quantum dots could potentially impact the development of flexible electronics, miniaturized sensors, thinner solar cells, and encrypted quantum communication.


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Bawendi conveyed his reaction to the award, noting that he felt “very surprised, sleepy, shocked, unexpected, and very honored.”

Arab chemists honoured with Nobel Prize

It is worth mentioning that Bawendi is not the first scientist of Arab descent to clinch a Nobel Prize. That distinction belongs to Elias James Corey, an American scientist of Lebanese descent, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1990. Late Ahmed Hassan Zewail, an Egyptian chemist, also received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his work in the field of femtochemistry, the study of chemical reactions across femtoseconds.

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Published on 6 October 2023