Alexei Ekimov: Russian Scientist Awarded Nobel Prize for Quantum Dot Innovation

On October 4, Alexei Ekimov, Moungi Bawendi and Louis Brus were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their breakthrough research on quantum dots. Ekimov, a Russian-born physicist, shares the honor with Bawendi, a French-born scientist, and Brus, an American scientist.


The Nobel Prize has been awarded jointly to Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus, and Alexei Ekimov for their groundbreaking discoveries on the unique properties of nano-materials and their manufacturing processes. These discoveries have paved the way for wide-ranging applications in consumer electronics, biochemistry, and medicine.

The Nobel Committee, when asked about the decision to reward a Russian scientist, explained that the selection process is based solely on the importance of the discoveries and the contributions made by the researchers, regardless of nationality. This approach is in accordance with the will of Alfred Nobel.

Uncovering a new world of color

The Nobel Committee outlined how the work of Bawendi, Brus, and Ekimov has led to the development of quantum dots. Ekimov’s breakthrough in the 1980s involved creating size-dependent quantum effects in colored glass, while Brus demonstrated size-dependent quantum effects in particles floating freely in a liquid. In 1993, Bawendi made significant advancements in the chemical production of quantum dots, resulting in the creation of “almost perfect particles” that could be used in various applications.

Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus, and Alexei Ekimov
Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus, and Alexei Ekimov

The contributions of these laureates have enabled scientists to exploit the properties of the nanoworld and incorporate quantum dots in various applications. They are widely used in TVs, offering advantages such as vibrant and accurate colors, as well as energy efficiency. Quantum dots are also utilized in medical diagnostics, where they help illuminate molecules that bind to cancer tumors, aiding surgeons in distinguishing healthy tissue from diseased tissue.

Prof Gill Reid, the president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, expressed excitement over the recognition of this work on quantum dots and emphasized the immense potential of these nanoparticles in creating smaller, faster, and smarter devices, improving the efficiency of solar panels, and enhancing TV screens.

Alexei Ekimov – Biography

Alexei Ivanovich Ekimov, born in 1945, is a Russian solid-state physicist known for his discovery of semiconductor nanocrystals called quantum dots while working at the Vavilov State Optical Institute. He graduated from the Faculty of Physics at Leningrad State University in 1967 and received the 1975 USSR State Prize in Science and Engineering for his work on electron spin orientation in semiconductors. Ekimov is also a co-recipient of the 2006 R. W. Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America for his pioneering studies on the electronic and optical properties of nanocrystal quantum dots. Since 1999, Ekimov has been based in the United States, working as a scientist for Nanocrystals Technology, a New York-based company.

Phuong Nguyen