Stockholm: A trio of French, British and Dutch scientists won the Nobel Chemistry Prize on Wednesday for developing molecular machines, the world’s smallest machines that may one day act as artificial muscles to power tiny robots or even prosthetic limbs. Jean-Pierre Sauvage of France, J Fraser Stoddart of Britain and Bernard Feringa of the Netherlands “have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added,” the jury said. The European trio of chemists will share the 8m Swedish kronor (£718,000) prize. In living organisms, cells work as molecular machines to power our organs, regulate temperature and repair damage. The Nobel trio were among the first to replicate this kind of function in synthetic molecules, by working out how to convert chemical energy into mechanical motion. This allowed them to construct molecular devices a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, including switches, motors, shuttles and even something resembling a motorcar. The advances have allowed scientists to develop materials that will reconfigure and adapt by themselves depending on their environment – for instance contracting with heat, or opening up to deliver drugs when they arrive at a target site in the body.