Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, the J.C. Warner Professor of the Natural Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon College of Science, has been named a recipient of the 2011 Wolf Prize in Chemistry from Israel’s Wolf Foundation.
The Wolf Prize is given every year in four out of five categories, in rotation: agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine and physics. A total of 262 scientists from around the world have been honored with this prize over the past 33 years. One out of every three Wolf Prize Laureates in chemistry, physics and medicine have later received a Nobel Prize.
“The Wolf Prize is a distinguished honor received by only the most elite scientists and artists in the world,” said CMU President Jared L. Cohon. “Kris certainly belongs in this category. His work is nothing short of visionary.”
Matyjaszewski will be recognized with two other noted chemists, Stuart Alan Rice of the University of Chicago and Ching Tang of the University of Rochester, for their “deep creative contributions to the chemical sciences in the field of synthesis, properties and an understanding of organic materials.” They will accept the award from the President of the State of Israel and the Israeli Minister of Education at a special ceremony at the Israeli Parliament on May 29.
“I feel very flattered by this special recognition from the Wolf Foundation. This award belongs not only to me, but also to the more than 50 graduate students, 100 postdocs and the countless chemists, materials scientists, and chemical, biomedical and civil engineers among CMU’s faculty that I have had the pleasure of collaborating with throughout the years,” Matyjaszewski said. “The 2011 Wolf Prize recognizes the contributions of many of my colleagues in the field of macromolecular engineering and precise polymer synthesis who are using innovative techniques to manufacture advanced materials with important applications in energy, the environment and biomedicine. I was most pleased to see that the award also recognizes the importance of the fundamental science behind these applications.”
The Wolf Prize Committee commended Matyjaszewski for his “groundbreaking research in synthesis of organic materials, and in particular, in the critical area of controlled, efficient, safe and economical polymer synthesis.” Matyjaszewski invented the process of atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), one of the most effective and most widely used methods of controlled radical polymerization (CRP). This method allows scientists to create polymers from many different component parts, called monomers, in a piece-by-piece fashion, precisely controlling the polymer’s composition. By assembling polymers in such a manner, scientists have been able to create a wide range of new materials with highly specific, tailored functionalities. This technology also allows for the production of “smart” materials that can respond to altered environments, such as changes in pressure, acidity, light exposure or other variables.
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