Omar M. Yaghi is the James and Neeltje Tretter Chair Professor of Chemistry at University of California, Berkeley. He has pioneered several extensive classes of new materials: Metal–Organic Frameworks (MOFs), Covalent Organic Frameworks (COFs), and Zeolitic Imidazolate Frameworks (ZIFs).
The building block approach he developed has led to an exponential growth in the creation of new materials having a diversity and multiplicity previously unknown in chemistry. He termed this field 'Reticular Chemistry' and defines it as “linking molecular building blocks by strong bonds to make extended crystalline structures”. He has developed these materials from basic science to applications in clean energy technologies including hydrogen and methane storage, as well as carbon dioxide capture and storage.
Professor Yaghi has developed a ground-breaking technology using MOFs to harvest pure water straight from the desert air. The key advance came in 2014 when he discovered that members of the MOF family exhibit a sharp uptake of water molecules from air at very low relative humidity (5–20%), and the energy required to get the water out of the MOFs is low. He and his research team have developed several generations of MOF water harvesters with successful field tests in the driest deserts in North America. He has called for “personalized water” in which he laid out a vision of having water off grid in the future.
Professor Yaghi is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and has been honoured with many awards for his scientific accomplishments, including King Faisal International Prize in Science (2015), Albert Einstein World Award of Science (2017), BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences (2017), Wolf Prize in Chemistry (2018), ENI Award for Excellence in Energy (2018), Gregori Aminoff Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2019), and August-Wilhelm-von-Hofmann-Denkmünze of the German Chemical Society (2020).