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Top Scientific Honor for Two Chemists

Chad Mirkin and Richard Van Duyne elected to National Academy of Sciences

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April 27, 2010 | by Megan Fellman

Chad A. Mirkin
Chad A. Mirkin

Richard P. Van Duyne
Richard P. Van Duyne

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University scientists Chad A. Mirkin, a world-renowned leader in nanotechnology research and its application, and Richard P. Van Duyne, the discoverer of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, have been elected members of the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Membership in the NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Mirkin and Van Duyne are among 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 14 countries recognized for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Northwestern now has 17 NAS members. Mirkin and Van Duyne will be inducted into the Academy next April during its 148th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. There are currently just over 2,000 active NAS members; more than 180 living Academy members have won Nobel prizes. Among the renowned NAS members are Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright and Alexander Graham Bell.

Mirkin is the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and professor of medicine, chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering and director of Northwestern's International Institute for Nanotechnology.

A member of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Mirkin is known for invention and development of biological and chemical diagnostic systems based upon nanomaterials. He also is the inventor and chief developer of Dip-Pen Nanolithography, a groundbreaking nanoscale fabrication and analytical tool, and is the founder of three Chicago-based companies: Aurasense, Nanosphere and NanoInk.

Van Duyne, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry, discovered surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) in 1977. SERS is now widely recognized as the most sensitive form of spectroscopy capable of identifying molecules. The central questions explored by Van Duyne lie in the area of nanoparticle optics. He applies localized surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, SERS, resonant Rayleigh scattering, atomic force microscopy and electron microscopy to solve problems in electrochemistry, surface science, materials chemistry and biochemistry. Van Duyne also is widely credited with the invention of nanosphere lithography and its use in transforming the field of nanoparticle optics.

The Academy was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.