NSF News

NSF statement on 2023 Nobel laureates in science

October 16, 2023

The week before last, the Nobel Assembly and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences began announcing the 2023 Nobel Prize recipients. Among the winners in physics, chemistry and economic sciences are researchers who have been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation during their careers.

"We extend our congratulations to all the winners of this year's Nobel Prizes. The achievements of these inspiring individuals have provided humanity with lasting benefits, thereby rightfully securing their names in annals of history," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "Since its establishment in 1950, NSF has advanced the full spectrum of science and engineering and STEM education, seeding a discovery ecosystem far and wide through crucial investments in curiosity-driven and translational research. Exemplifying our impact are the 262 Nobel Prize recipients we’ve funded thus far. We are truly honored to have played a supportive role in their accomplishments, and we will continue to invest in the research and people whose bold visions, ingenuity and hard work push the frontiers of knowledge and promote real progress for a better, safer and healthier world."

Listed below are this year's winners, a summary of their achievements, and a description of their research NSF helped to support.

The 2023 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Moungi G. Bawendi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Louis E. Brus, Columbia University; Alexei I. Ekimov, Nanocrystals Technology Inc.

"For the discovery and synthesis of quantum dot technology."

In the 1930s, physicists began theorizing the properties of synthetic materials so small in their dimensions that they could exhibit quantum properties. Thanks to the collective discoveries and seminal experiments of Bawendi, Brus and Ekimov in the 1980s and 1990s, scientists have a chemical method for reliably producing high-quality, semiconducting quantum dots. Today, quantum dots (a few nanometers in diameter) are manufactured into products that are part of our everyday lives – TVs, computers and smartphones – and researchers believe that in the future, these semiconducting nanocrystals could be used in technologies such as flexible electronics, tiny sensors and quantum computers. NSF is proud to have supported the research and early-career development of Brus and Bawendi, including the latter’s Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1991.

The 2023 Nobel Prize in physics

Pierre Agostini, Ohio State University; Ferenc Krausz, Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Garching and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; Anne L’Huillier, Lund University.

"For experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter."

Since the late 1980s, researchers have been conducting experiments designed to track the ultrafast motion (43 miles per second) of electrons and grasp the dynamic behavior of these subatomic particles. Through their independent efforts and combined work, Agostini, Krausz and L’Huillier developed breakthrough techniques to capture, in real time, electrons’ rapid movements using short pulses of light called "attosecond pulses." NSF is proud to have supported Agostini’s exploratory research and particle motion experiments over the course of two decades. These laureates’ collective discoveries have opened another door into the world of electrons, helping to better understand the fundamental laws of physics, while paving the way for the creation of new technologies.

2023 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Claudia Goldin, Harvard University.

"For having advanced our understanding of women’s labor market outcomes."

Making sense of the underlying factors that drive women’s workforce representation and earnings is critical to better understand wage and labor gaps over the last century and the barriers that need to be addressed to overcome these systemic problems. In the early 1980s, Claudia Goldin adopted a comprehensive approach to explaining these differences. She concluded that structural transformation of the economy, laws and innovations in technology and medicine – namely, women’s access to the contraceptive pill -- and evolving social norms regarding women’s education and responsibilities in the home and family were driving forces in women’s greater representation in the workforce. A central finding is that differences in pay and workforce participation are due not to biology but to the division of unpaid caregiving responsibilities between heterosexual couples. NSF is proud to have supported Goldin’s research career over 40 years. Her groundbreaking work has led to surprising insights into women’s historical and contemporary roles in the labor market and helped us better understand how and why rates of employment and pay differ between women and men -- knowledge critical for creating a more equitable and efficient society.

Learn more about NSF's Nobel connection and read about past NSF-supported laureates at nsf.gov