The difficult childhood of the creator of world-changing materials just received VinFuture


Constantly striving to overcome difficult circumstances, Professor Omar M. Yaghi has succeeded in inventing a material that can change the world.

Professor Omar M. Yaghi (SN 1965) is the owner of the special prize for “Scientist researching new fields” of VinFuture in the first year. “I am very grateful and honored to receive this award. Thank you to VinFuture Foundation and the members of the Award Council for giving me this honor. I think the award as well as the fund is a great idea with a very strong message, showing the vision and generosity of the founders as well as Vietnam with the desire for a better world.”, he said.

Difficult childhood

Prof. Omar M. Yaghi was born in Amman, Jordan – a small country in the Middle East, in a refugee family of 10 brothers and sisters, of Palestinian origin. With many brothers and sisters, the area of ​​the house is quite small, so the whole family has to live with the cows. It was this situation that trained him to be patient and energetic to rise up in life.

“I was independent from a very young age. I always told my parents not to care about my academic results. I know what to do and how to do it.”, Prof. Omar M. Yaghi shared.

When he was 10 years old, when he went to the library and saw a picture of a molecular model, he was very impressed with the beauty of the model. Years later, as he studied chemistry and materials, he realized that the molecular pattern he saw at the age of 10 was the starting point that led him to chemistry and materials.

At the age of 15, he moved to the US to settle down at the encouragement of his father. He started classes at Hudson Valley Community College and then went to the University of Albany, SUNY to complete his undergraduate degree.

He began his graduate studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and received his doctorate in 1990 under the guidance of Walter G. Klemperer. He was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University (1990–1992) with Professor Richard H. Holm.

In the past few years, he and his research team have created a very small material, with 1 gram the size of about 1 coin that can cover an entire football field, which is the mechanical frame material (Metal). -Organic Frameworks or MOFs). It can’t be seen with the naked eye, but when analyzed by molecules, the bonds are so strong, we can spread them out – the size of a football field.

When analyzed from a molecular perspective, it can be seen that the material has a lot of pores and strong bonds to spread the material over a very wide surface. From this pore can convert carbon emissions, water filters, air purifiers, catalysts and sensors. In desert areas with low humidity, the mechatronic framework can be programmed to capture water from the air. When looking at the material at the molecular level, it will be seen that the pores of the molecule will accumulate, which in turn can be used to make water.

According to him, human creativity has no limits. Humans can always innovate and create. We will always find a way to solve all the problems in the world, just keep learning and researching everything in life.

“If you want to do science, be stubborn, resilient, even stubbornly pursuing your goals. Don’t let the temptations and pleasures out there distract or divert your research. If you are passionate about research, you will succeed and change the world.”, the professor shares great advice for young scientists.

Creating materials that change the world

Mr. Yaghi is currently a chemist working at the National Laboratory of the University of California-Berkeley (USA). He is also a world-renowned scientist in the field of research into molecular and nanoscale structures and their applications. He is the 2nd chemist in the top 100 world chemists of the past decade.

Professor Omar M. Yaghi has made many contributions to world science, especially in pioneering, inventing and synthesizing MOF and ZIF materials.

Prof. Omar M. Yaghi.

With pioneering work discovering metal-mechanical framework materials (MOFs). MOFs are new materials composed of charged organic bonds and metal ions, with permanent porosity, impressive stability over large surface areas. With adjustable pore sizes forming a 3D network, allowing the absorption and storage of gas and water molecules, MOFs create a solution for capturing, storing, separating and controlling the chemical composition of many gases and molecules, capable of cleaning the environment, providing a cleaner atmosphere, energy source and water source.

In particular, Professor Yaghi’s MOF water receiver has the potential to provide clean water from the air. If successfully applied, new materials MOFs will change the lives of millions of people living in places where clean water is scarce.

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