It is that time of the year when everyone is making predictions about who would get the Nobel this year. I’ve read several tweets claiming that the halide perovskite field, due to the high interest it has sparked for the past ten years, would garner a Nobel prize. As it is for lithium batteries, my view is that this field has not been the ground for fundamentally new physics or new chemistry, that can justify a Nobel prize. Nobel awarding fields have usually started with profound and groundbreaking fundamental advances, sometimes resulting in broad commercial applications decades later. Thas is not the case of halide perovskites where the application through iterative and incremental research* predominates the fundamental achievements.
There have been prior comparisons of halide perovskites with graphene, but the idea behind graphene was to study a 2DEG in a single layer of carbon, simply realised through the micromecanical - “scotch tape” - method. This lead to significant development in the understanding of the behaviour of electrons in high quality 2DEG, even if important commercial ventures are still lacking. There has never been any Nobel prize for someone using scotch tape, as many still think.
I have been an advocate of the halide #perovskites because I think it has the power to transform our energy grid and potentially reduce our carbon footprint. But I don’t think the Nobel prize awards technological achievements.
So who could get it?
My prediction for the Nobel Prize in Physics this year would be Lene Hau and Steve Harris, and in Chemistry Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier.
edit (Oct 2020): Doudna and Charpentier are the 2020 laureates “for the development of a method for genome editing”
Here is a list of possible nominations with a few details for these two Nobel prizes.
- Lene Hau and Steve Harris for their work on ultracold gases that slow down and even stop light, leading to electromagnetically induced transparency and studies in nonlinear optics.
- Sandra Faber, Margaret Geller, and Helen Quinn for dark matter;
- Yakir Aharonov and Michael Berry for their seminal work on the geometric phase in quantum mechanics. Yoseph Imry might also be a good contender in this field. I would be very happy to see them being awarded this year as it is condensed matter and I’ve been working on similar fields for a year now;
- Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, for their fundamental and experimental contributions to quantum physics and validation of Bell’s inequalities.
edit (Oct 2022): they were awarded the prize in 2022 “for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities, and pioneering quantum information science”.
- Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier for their remarkable studies of CRISPR/Cas9. However, since this is the year of the CRISPR babies scandal, they might have to wait another year;
- Omar Yaghi for MOFs, especilly with the recent discovery they could store carbon and be a game changer towards sustainability;
- Krzysztof Matyjaszewski and Jean Frechet for their work on polymers, for atom transfer radical polymerisation and chemically-amplified photoresists, respectively, although that may be a little aged now. In the realm of transfer, Bard, Gray and Lippard have made great contributions in bioinorganic electron transfer and might also be contenders.
- Ewine van Dishoeck for astrochemistry.
Finally, I would like to see Greta Thunberg receive the prize in Peace for her profound engagement on environmental issues.
* as compared to the works that usually garner Nobel prizes.