Designation: Co-Director of the Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute and Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley
Work: Metal-organic Frameworks (MOFs)
Field of the Prize: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
For his outstanding contributions in designing and production of classes of compounds known as Metal-organic Frameworks (MOFs), Zeolite Imidazolate Frameworks (ZIFs)and Covalent Organic Frameworks (COFs)
The most useful materials made by humankind such as zeolites, polymers, pharmaceuticals, steel and concrete are composed either from organic or inorganic components. Prof. Yaghi has pioneered the field of making materials by linking both organic and inorganic units together by strong bonds into robust porous crystalline materials called nanoporous metal-organic frameworks (MOFs).These hybrid materials are useful in gas storage (hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide), hydrocarbon separations, catalysis, and more recently electronics. Prof. Yaghi developed this chemistry from the fundamental science all the way to applications. BASF is currently marketing his inventions as Basolites.
It has been a long-standing objective in chemistry to make materials by design. The challenge is that linking building units together into extended structures invariably lead to amorphous materials, which defied design. Yaghi’s invention of MOFs turned this ‘dream’ into reality and made available a chemistry, which has led to the production of the most extensive class of materials ever made. The ability to fine-tune these materials nearly at will has made them important and to be widely practiced in over 1,000 academic and industrial laboratories worldwide. This has inspired legions of young scholars around the world to enter into chemistry and the research into new materials.
Prof. Omar M. Yaghi is a Jordanian-American scientist who was born in Amman, Jordan in 1965. He received his B.S. degree from State University of New York-Albany (1985), and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Urbana (1990) with Professor Walter G. Klemperer. He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University (1990-92) with Professor Richard H. Holm. He has been on the faculties of Arizona State University (1992-98), University of Michigan (1999-2006), and UCLA (2007-2011). He is currently the James and Neeltje Tretter Chair Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley, and a Senior Faculty Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is the Founding Director of the Berkeley Global Science Institute. He is also the Co-Director of the Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute, and the California Research Alliance by BASF. His early accomplishments in the design and synthesis of new materials have been honored by the Solid-State Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society and Exxon Co. (1998) and the Sacconi Medal of the Italian Chemical Society (2004). His work on hydrogen storage was recognized by Popular Science Magazine which listed him among the ‘Brilliant 10’ scientists and engineers in USA (2006), and the US Department of Energy Hydrogen Program Award for outstanding contributions to hydrogen storage (2007). He was the sole recipient of the Materials Research Society Medal for pioneering work in the theory, design, synthesis and applications of metal-organic frameworks and the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize for the best paper published in Science (2007). He is also the recipient of the American Chemical Society Chemistry of Materials Award (2009), Izatt-Christensen International Award (2009), United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Prize (2010), China Nano Award (2013), King Faisal International Prize in Science (2015). He holds over 10 distinguished professorships from universities in China, South Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Prof. Yaghi published over 200 articles, which have received an average of over 300 citations per paper. He is among the top five most highly cited chemists worldwide.