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ASU-UCLA collaboration puts professors at top of materials world

November 03, 2011

Editor's Note: Arizona State will take on the University of California-Los Angeles, Nov. 5, in Pasadena, Calif.

Research collaborations are built by topic. Strong collaborations take years to build and are led by the team’s excitement of the science and the newness of the work. This is especially true of a collaboration between chemists at Arizona State University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Michael O’Keeffe, an ASU emeritus professor and research professor of chemistry, and Omar Yaghi, a professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at UCLA, have been working together on new materials for years. They have spent countless hours exploring the materials world and coming up with new, never-seen-before concoctions.

One of their more recent, intriguing finds is fast becoming a hit in the rest of the world.

Yaghi and O’Keeffe discovered metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which have enormous potential for a wide range of applications. Today, MOFs are widely studied in laboratories the world over, where thousands of researchers are synthesizing the materials and studying their properties.

The work on MOFs has catapulted the two collaborators to numbers two (Yaghi) and three (O’Keeffe) on the list of the top 100 cited chemists in the past decade, as ranked by Thomson Reuters.  In fact, the two are co-authors of the most highly cited paper in chemistry worldwide, which was published August 2010.

“The reason for the extraordinary interest in my work is to be found in the collaboration with Omar Yaghi of UCLA,” said O’Keeffe. “In the late ‘90’s Omar, who was at ASU at the time, discovered metal organic frameworks. These had unprecedented porosities and surface areas and have enormous potential for many applications, the most immediate being the storage of gases such as hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide with obvious applications to clean energy technologies.”

Thomson Reuters top 100 celebrates the achievements of chemists who have the highest citation impact scores for chemistry papers (articles and reviews) published since January 2000. Thomson Reuters published the table in this, the International Year of Chemistry.