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ASU emeritus professor, colleague receive Aminoff Prize from Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Professor Michael O'Keeffe

ASU Emeritus Regents' Professor Michael O’Keeffe (left) receives the Aminoff prize from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, with Professor Omar Yaghi observing.

April 12, 2019

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has just awarded the 2019 Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography to ASU Emeritus Regents' Professor Michael O’Keeffe and Professor Omar M. Yaghi, of the University of California, Berkeley, “for their fundamental contributions to the development of reticular chemistry.” The honor was personally awarded by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

“This is a well-deserved achievement by one of our most famous scholars,” said Professor Neal Woodbury, director of the School of Molecular Sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. “Professor O’Keeffe has performed decades of groundbreaking work on the fundamental structure and properties of molecules and materials. He has been a pioneer in the creation of materials made from linking molecular building blocks into porous frameworks, a field that has been used to develop everything from catalysts to materials for specific chemical separation processes.”

Metal-organic frameworks, universally called MOFs, are a relatively new class of crystalline materials with unprecedented porosities and capacities to absorb gases, with many practical applications.

MOFs and their properties were discovered in the late ‘90s at ASU by Yaghi and his group. Yaghi was joined by O’Keeffe in developing the theory and practice of synthesis of MOFs with designed structure and properties — reticular chemistry.

Yaghi and O’Keeffe were both ranked in the top three on the world list of most frequently cited chemists in the decade ending in 2011.

“What has been most remarkable to me in MOF chemistry over the years was the constant Greek chorus saying that ‘It can’t be done,'" O'Keeffe said. "But subsequent history has been an illustration of the truism 'never say never.' Naysayers can only be proved wrong.”

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