Omar M. Yaghi is known for pioneering reticular chemistry, which is concerned with linking organic and inorganic molecules by strong bonds to make crystalline frameworks such as metal-organic frameworks and covalent organic frameworks. These structures exhibit exceptional porous properties useful in many applications such as carbon capture and conversion to fuels and water harvesting from desert air. He was born in Amman, Jordan and received B.S. degree in chemistry from State University of New York, Albany in 1985, and Ph.D. degree in chemistry from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1990. He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University in 1990. He has held professorial positions in chemistry at Arizona State University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and UCLA. Since 2012, he has been the James and Neeltje Tretter Chair Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley. Among his awards and recognitions are the Materials Research Society Medal, American Chemical Society Award in Chemistry of Materials, King Faisal International Prize in Science, Albert Einstein World Award of Science, BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences, Eni Award for Excellence in Energy, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Aminoff Prize, National Academy of Sciences, and Wolf Prize in Chemistry.

Research Interests

The logical synthesis of extended solids has been a long-standing objective in chemistry. The fundamental problem is that attempts to link molecular building units into extended structures often led to amorphous or poorly crystalline solids. Our research has turned this "dream" into reality by making metal-organic frameworks. We showed that metal-oxide clusters could be used as anchors for joining organic linkers into robust crystalline open frameworks. This approach was then generalized by using other clusters, from the almost forgotten arsenal of poly-nuclear acetates of metals, and vast number of organic linkers to build an extensive class of porous frameworks. We found that the clusters' rigidity impart directionality and thus it was crucial in building structures by design. This was elaborated to make for the first time materials with controlled porosity, pore-functionality and metrics. We also showed that organic molecules can be linked by covalent bonds to make covalent organic frameworks and molecularly woven frameworks. This "reticular chemistry" has led to the design of structures with exceptional porous properties making them useful in many applications such as the storage of hydrogen and methane, selective capture of carbon dioxide and its conversion to fuels, and harvesting water from desert air.

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Section 14: Chemistry