He received the distinction on Wednesday from Education minister Jet Bussemaker in the Mauritshuis in The Hague. Feringa (1951) has been a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion since 2008. Now, he has been appointed Commander, the second highest civilian honor in the Netherlands.
‘His top-level research and inspiring leadership have led to vitally important breakthroughs in chemistry, putting Dutch chemical research at the centre of scientific attention’, the RUG press release on the appointment reads. Feringa ‘may rightfully be called the figurehead of Dutch chemistry.’ Last Friday, the university announced that the new accommodations for the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, to be completed in 2022, would be named in honour of the professor.
Feringa’s most sensational research has been in the field of nanotechnology: in 1999, he developed a molecular motor (the nanomotor), a light-driven rotating molecule. The achievement is generally considered a world-class breakthrough. The development of a molecular ‘car’ – the nanocar – followed in 2011.
Last year, he developed a rotating motor molecule that uses chemical energy instead of light, paving the way for new technological applications in medical sciences, among others.
Feringa is also an advocate of fundamental scientific research in the Netherlands, which he sees as crucial for the development of new materials and technology. Shortly after it was made known that he had won the Nobel Prize, Feringa asserted that without fundamental research, we would never have had the iPhone.