The co-founder of a fluorescence-guided imaging technology firm has been awarded part of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in acknowledgement of his research into quantum dots.

The Nobel Prize Committee said that Moungi Bawendi revolutionised the chemical production of quantum dots, resulting in almost perfect particles.

Quantum dots are nanoparticles so tiny that their size determines their properties. They have frequently been employed in the use of medical imaging devices such as those provided by the company Bawendi co-founded, Lumicell.

The Nobel Prize Committee said: “Quantum dots now illuminate computer monitors and television screens based on QLED technology. They also add nuance to the light of some LED lamps, and biochemists and doctors use them to map biological tissue.”

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences additionally awarded the prize to two other researchers, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov. Both of whom were pivotal in the development of quantum dots.

Quantum dots allow for much more sophisticated and precise imaging over traditional imaging devices. Lumicell’s own investigational Direct Visualization System (DVS), is designed to assist in the detection of residual cancerous tissue during lumpectomy using fluorescence imaging and was developed in Bawendi’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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The company has said that its DVS system has been used to screen more than 700 breast cancer patients across five clinical studies and is currently awaiting the outcome of a new drug application from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Jorge Ferrer, senior vice president at Lumicell, said: “It’s exciting to see Professor Bawendi’s research into quantum dots, which has enabled breakthroughs in medical imaging, display technology and electronic materials, recognised with the top scientific prize in the world.

“His expertise has been instrumental in the development of our investigational Lumicell Direct Visualization System, and he continues to be an important scientific advisor as we work toward FDA approval of the Lumicell DVS for breast cancer and embark on the development of new imaging technologies to expand into other cancers.”

The news comes after the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded to two scientists whose research allowed for the development of mRNA vaccines.

This content was updated on 25 January 2024