"This method has moved biochemistry into a new era", the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Wednesday.
Richard Henderson, 72, of the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, was rewarded in Stockholm for developments in electron microscopy. The benchmark for excellence in the domain of science is the Nobel Prize which is awarded for innovative ventures in Science and this time no exception.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 was also awarded to two persons, Fraser Stoddart and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Ben Feringa "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines".
Richard Henderson was the first person to generate an image of a protein using TEM.
The ultra-sensitive imaging method allows molecules to flash-frozen and studied in their natural form, without the need for dyes or fixatives.
The development of Cryo-electron microscopy changes all of this.
The Nobel award week opened Monday with a trio of USA scientists sharing the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research into how organism's internal biological clocks align themselves with natural cycles of night and day. The water that surrounds the molecules evaporates, and the high energy electrons burn and destroy the molecules. By dropping samples in ethane cooled by liquid nitrogen to -196 degrees Celsius, Dubochet created breathtakingly sharp images.
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Now, with the development of cryo-electron microscopy, researchers can freeze biomolecules mid-movement and observe how they act - and interact. Further advances have brought cryo-EM within reach of resolving single atoms, rivalling x-ray crystallography.
No Indian citizen has won the Nobel prize in Chemistry.
75-year-old Jacques Dubochet, was born in Switzerland, and is now a honorary professor of biophysics the Universite Lausanne.
The trio will share the prize money of nine million Swedish kronor (around $1.1 million or 943,100 euros).
The final step in developing the system begin with Dubochet's success in vitrifying water in the 1980s, cooling it so quickly that it would solidify around a sample, thus allowing biomolecules to maintain their shape - even within a vacuum.
Speaking of his childhood fear of darkness and scientific curiosity, Dubochet said in an earlier interview: "It was important for me to face my fears and understand the frightening things".