Creation of quantum dots wins 2023 chemistry Nobel


application: A particular use or function of something.

atom: The basic unit of a chemical element. Atoms are made up of a dense nucleus that contains positively charged protons and uncharged neutrons. The nucleus is orbited by a cloud of negatively charged electrons.

biomedical: Having to do with medicine and how it interacts with cells or tissues.

biomedical engineer: An expert who uses science and math to find solutions to problems in biology and medicine; for example, they might create medical devices such as artificial knees.

cell: (in biology) The smallest structural and functional unit of an organism. Typically too small to see with the unaided eye, it consists of a watery fluid surrounded by a membrane or wall. Depending on their size, animals are made of anywhere from thousands to trillions of cells. Most organisms, such as yeasts, molds, bacteria and some algae, are composed of only one cell. 

chemical: A substance formed from two or more atoms that unite (bond) in a fixed proportion and structure. For example, water is a chemical made when two hydrogen atoms bond to one oxygen atom. Its chemical formula is H2O. Chemical also can be an adjective to describe properties of materials that are the result of various reactions between different compounds.

chemistry: The field of science that deals with the composition, structure and properties of substances and how they interact. Scientists use this knowledge to study unfamiliar substances, to reproduce large quantities of useful substances or to design and create new and useful substances. (about compounds) Chemistry also is used as a term to refer to the recipe of a compound, the way it’s produced or some of its properties. People who work in this field are known as chemists.

colleague: Someone who works with another; a co-worker or team member.

copper: A metallic chemical element in the same family as silver and gold. Because it is a good conductor of electricity, it is widely used in electronic devices.

crystal: (adj. crystalline) A solid consisting of a symmetrical, ordered, three-dimensional arrangement of atoms or molecules. It’s the organized structure taken by most minerals. Apatite, for example, forms six-sided crystals. The crystalline components of a rock are usually too small to be seen with the unaided eye.

electricity: A flow of charge, usually from the movement of negatively charged particles, called electrons.

engineer: A person who uses science and math to solve problems. As a verb, to engineer means to design a device, material or process that will solve some problem or unmet need.

flu: Short for influenza. It is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever and severe aching. It often occurs as an epidemic.

fluorescent: (v. fluoresce) Adjective for something that is capable of absorbing and reemitting light. That reemitted light is known as fluorescence.

glass: A hard, brittle substance made from silica, a mineral found in sand. Glass usually is transparent and fairly inert (chemically nonreactive). Aquatic organisms called diatoms build their shells of it.

HIV: (short for Human Immunodeficiency Virus) A potentially deadly virus that attacks cells in the body’s immune system and causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.

immune system: The collection of cells and their responses that help the body fight off infections and deal with foreign substances that may provoke allergies.

infectious: An adjective that describes a type of microbe or virus that can be transmitted to people, animals or other living things.

LED: (short for light emitting diode) Electronic components that, as their name suggests, emit light when electricity flows through them. LEDs are very energy-efficient and often can be very bright. They have lately been replacing conventional lights for home and commercial lamps.

link: A connection between two people or things.

matter: Something that occupies space and has mass. Anything on Earth with matter will have a property described as “weight.”

mechanics: The study of how things move.

metal: Something that conducts electricity well, tends to be shiny (reflective) and is malleable (meaning it can be reshaped with heat and not too much force or pressure).

molecule: An electrically neutral group of atoms that represents the smallest possible amount of a chemical compound. Molecules can be made of single types of atoms or of different types. For example, the oxygen in the air is made of two oxygen atoms (O2), but water is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O).

Nobel prize: A prestigious award named after Alfred Nobel. Best known as the inventor of dynamite, Nobel was a wealthy man when he died on December 10, 1896. In his will, Nobel left much of his fortune to create prizes to those who have done their best for humanity in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Winners receive a medal and large cash award.

particle: A minute amount of something.

physicist: A scientist who studies the nature and properties of matter and energy.

quantum: (pl. quanta) A term that refers to the smallest amount of anything, especially of energy or subatomic mass.

quantum dot: A nanoparticle of semiconducting material (meaning one with dimensions measured on the scale of billionths of a meter). It is inserted into cells, organisms or electronic materials, where it can be used as a label (tag) or to turn trigger some function (such as the production of sterilizing chemicals).

quantum mechanics: A branch of physics dealing with the behavior of matter on the scale of atoms or subatomic particles.

rainbow: An arc of color displayed across the sky during or just after a rain. It’s caused when water droplets in the atmosphere bend (or diffract) white sunlight into a number of its component hues: usually red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

range: The full extent or distribution of something. For instance, a plant or animal’s range is the area over which it naturally exists. 

semiconductor: A material that sometimes conducts electricity. Semiconductors are important parts of computer chips and certain new electronic technologies, such as light-emitting diodes.

society: An integrated group of people or animals that generally cooperate and support one another for the greater good of them all.

solar: Having to do with the sun or the radiation it emits. It comes from sol, Latin for sun.

solution: A liquid in which one chemical has been dissolved into another.

subtly: An adverb to describe something that may be important, but can be hard to see or describe. For instance, the first cellular changes that signal the start of a cancer may be only subtly different — as in small and hard to distinguish from nearby healthy tissues.

synthesis: (v. synthesize) The production of a substance by the combining of simpler chemical building blocks.

system: A network of parts that together work to achieve some function. For instance, the blood, vessels and heart are primary components of the human body’s circulatory system. Similarly, trains, platforms, tracks, roadway signals and overpasses are among the potential components of a nation’s railway system. System can even be applied to the processes or ideas that are part of some method or ordered set of procedures for getting a task done.

tag: (in cell biology) The attachment of a chemical that stains a cell (or cell part) or that glows when a certain wavelength of light hits it. (in immunology) A chemical change that allows the immune system to identify cells or other material that it should attack and disable or remove.

tagging: (in biology) Attaching some rugged band or package of instruments onto an animal. Sometimes the tag is used to give each individual a unique identification number. Once attached to the leg, ear or other part of the body of a critter, it can effectively become the animal’s “name.” In some instances, a tag can collect information from the environment around the animal as well. This helps scientists understand both the environment and the animal’s role within it.

technology: The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry — or the devices, processes and systems that result from those efforts.

theoretical: An adjective for an analysis or assessment of something that based on pre-existing knowledge of how things behave. It is not based on experimental trials. Theoretical research tends to use math — usually performed by computers — to predict how or what will occur for some specified series of conditions. Experimental testing or observations of natural systems will then be needed to confirm what had been predicted.

tissue: Made of cells, it is any of the distinct types of materials that make up animals, plants or fungi. Cells within a tissue work as a unit to perform a particular function in living organisms. Different organs of the human body, for instance, often are made from many different types of tissues.

tumor: A mass of cells characterized by atypical and often uncontrolled growth. Benign tumors will not spread; they just grow and cause problems if they press against or tighten around healthy tissue. Malignant tumors will ultimately shed cells that can seed the body with new tumors. Malignant tumors are also known as cancers.


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