Catherine Murphy wins Royal Society of Chemistry prize

Date

06/06/22

Professor Catherine Murphy, Larry R. Faulkner Endowed Chair in Chemistry, and Head, Department of Chemistry, has been named winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Centenary Prize in recognition of brilliance in research and innovation.

Based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Murphy won the prize for pioneering work on the growth, size and shape control, biological applications and environmental implications of gold nanocrystals, and for excellence in communication.

Murphy joins a prestigious list of past winners in the RSC’s prize portfolio, 60 of whom have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their work, including 2016 Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa and 2019 Nobel laureate John B Goodenough. Professor Murphy also receives £5,000 and a medal.

 After receiving the prize, Professor Murphy said: “Disbelief!”

 At the nanoscale, gold and silver exhibit brilliant shape-dependent optical properties that enable applications in chemical sensing, biological imaging, optical displays, energy conversion devices, mechanically improved polymer nanocomposites, and even photothermal therapy for removal of pathogenic cells.

 The use of gold in so many technology sectors is, in part, due to Murphy’s work. Since 2001, her lab has developed the seed-mediated growth method to synthesize these nanomaterials and has extensively studied their formation mechanisms, kinetics and surface chemistry. The seed-mediated growth approach is now widely adopted by the nanomaterials community as a way to control crystal growth on the nanoscale.

 Dr. Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said:

“Great science changes the way we think about things – either through the techniques used, the findings themselves, the products that emerge or even in how we interact with the world and those around us. Importantly, it also allows us to reflect on the incredible people involved in this work and how they have achieved their results. 

“Although we are in the midst of negotiating a particularly turbulent and challenging era, it is important to celebrate successes and advances in understanding as genuine opportunities to improve our lives. The work of Professor Murphy is a fantastic example of why we celebrate great science, and we’re very proud to recognize their contribution today.”

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognized excellence in the chemical sciences for more than 150 years. In 2019, the organization announced the biggest overhaul of this portfolio in its history, designed to better reflect modern scientific work and culture.

The Research and Innovation Prizes celebrate brilliant individuals across industry and academia. They include prizes for those at different career stages in general chemistry and for those working in specific fields, as well as interdisciplinary prizes and prizes for those in specific roles.

For more information about the RSC’s revised prizes portfolio, visit rsc.li/prizes.

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