The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award 21 in Basic Sciences goes, in this tenth edition, to Omar Yaghi, for his pioneering work in the conception and synthesis of porous metal organic and covalent organic frameworks, MOFs and COFs, and their impact in science and engineering.
Omar Yaghi pioneered the design and development of new crystalline materials: metal organic frameworks (MOFs), covalent organic frameworks (COFs), and zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs). These materials have a very high surface area with many potential applications including storage and separation of hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide, capture of water from air for fresh water production, catalysis, the storage of ions in supercapacitor devices, and transport of protons and electrons in conductive frameworks.
The building block approach he developed has led to an exponential growth in the creation of new materials having a diversity previously unknown in chemistry. Yaghi himself termed this field reticular chemistry and defines it as “stitching molecular building blocks into extended structures by strong bonds.” This chemistry is now being practiced in numerous laboratories in academia and industry worldwide.