Professor Martin Schröder
Winner: 2020 Nyholm Prize for Inorganic Chemistry
University of Manchester
For seminal work on the design, synthesis and characterization of porous metal–organic framework materials for substrate binding and selectivity.
Celebrate Professor Martin Schröder
Pollution contributes to the death of some seven million people per year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and toxic gases such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) are major contributing factors. Professor Schröder’s recent work has focused on the capture of these potent toxic gases that are emitted by industry, vehicles and shipping. By using the correct combination of metal centres and organic molecules that bridge those metal centres, new crystalline materials (called metal–organic frameworks) can be prepared that can act as sponges to selectively bind and store gases. The major challenge is that SO2 and NO2 are extremely caustic and reactive and many materials are simply not sufficiently stable to act as re-useable capture agents.
Professor Schröder’s recent materials are sufficiently stable, and he is now developing materials systems that can capture these toxic gases from the air, thus removing toxic emissions from the environment. His materials can be readily tuned by variations in pore size and shape and chemical functionality, and this approach is also applicable to the capture and separations of other gases such carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen, ammonia, ethane, ethylene and acetylene.Read full biography
Martin Schröder was born near London of refugee Estonian parents and was first in his family to attend university. He gained his BSc in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield, and his PhD from Imperial College, London under the supervision of Professor W.P. Griffith. After postdoctoral fellowships at the ETH, Zürich and the University of Cambridge, he was appointed to a Senior Demonstratorship at the University of Edinburgh in 1982. He was subsequently promoted to Lecturer, Reader and then Professor, and in 1995 was appointed to the University of Nottingham as Head and Professor of Inorganic Chemistry. In Nottingham he was Head of the School of Chemistry (1999–2005) and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science (2011–2015). In 2015 he moved to his current position as Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Manchester.
He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto, the University of Otago, and the Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg. He has published 525 publications and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. His awards include the RSC Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize, a Royal Society of Edinburgh Support Research Fellowship, the RSC Tilden Lectureship, the RSC Award for the Chemistry of Transition Metals, a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award, a Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, and the RSC Award for Chemistry of the Noble Metals and their Compounds. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Tallinn Technical University in 2005 and the Nikolaev Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, in 2017. In 2016 he was elected Member of the Academia Europaea.
His research interests lie in the area of materials chemistry, specifically the design, synthesis and study of porous metal–organic framework materials for energy and environmental applications. Current focus lies in the separation and capture of fuel and toxic gases, hydrocarbons and metal values, and applications of porous materials in catalysis, clean-up and proton conductivity.
How did you first become interested in chemistry?
At school studying for my O-levels. My chemistry teacher was a very down to earth and inspirational teacher. He made the subject come alive. He did not focus on the usual demonstration experiments (although they were great fun of course), but he always showed that there was a greater complexity and understanding to be gained by asking the next question or taking the extra step.
Why do you think teamwork, collaboration and interdisciplinary research are important in science?
Modern science relies upon discovery in its broadest sense and bringing together teams of inter- and multi-disciplinary scientists has become increasingly important (indeed vital) in addressing the grand social challenges of the environment, energy, climate change and sustainability. Of course, there will always be a place for fundamental studies within a discipline, but increasingly in order to gain deeper understanding, insights and impact, team science must be encouraged, enabled and rewarded. Often in chemistry we focus unduly on the principal investigator, the “lead academic”, and try to define who did precisely what and whose contribution is the most important within a piece of work.