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Tobin Marks Receives Herman Pines Award for Catalysis Work

April 8, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Tobin J. Marks, Vladimir N. Ipatieff Research Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, has received the 2009 Herman Pines Award from the Chicago Catalysis Society.

Marks will be honored May 18 at the Catalysis Club of Chicago Spring Symposium where he will deliver the keynote address.

A major honor in the field of catalytic science and technology, the award recognizes Marks' "outstanding contributions in the areas of both homogenous and heterogeneous catalysis." This includes "his major impact on contemporary catalytic science with pioneering studies of olefin polymerization, supported organometallic catalysts, metal-ligand bonding energetics and f-element catalysis."

"I am deeply honored because this award bears the name of Herman Pines, who was a Northwestern University faculty member and a true giant in the field of catalysis for bettering our lives," said Marks. "Pines pioneered in developing catalytic hydrocarbon processing for high-octane gasoline, a key to the British defeat of the German air onslaught in the Battle of Britain." Marks is a world leader in the fields of chemical catalysis, materials chemistry, and nanotechnology.

The work of Pines, a member of the Northwestern Department of Chemistry for more than 30 years, revolutionized the general understanding of organic catalytic chemistry, particularly the chemistry of hydrocarbons interacting with strong acids.

Marks has developed processes for numerous types of recyclable, environmentally friendly plastics, efficient organic displays and transistor circuitry, and organic solar energy cells. He is a leader in the development and understanding of single-site olefin polymerization catalysis (now a multibillion dollar industry) as well as in the study of new materials having remarkable electrical, mechanical, interfacial and photonic properties.

Marks designed a co-catalyst that led to what is now a standard process for producing better polyolefins, including polyethylene and polypropylene. These versatile and inexpensive plastics are lighter in weight and more recyclable than previous plastics.

He has developed a prototype of third-generation photovoltaic solar cells, composed of flexible, efficient, low-cost, organic materials, as well as new materials for sensors and light modulators enabling high-speed optical data transmission and processing. His other achievements include high-performance transistors and light-emitting diodes based on organic materials (OLEDs), which lead to energy savings and are being incorporated in electronic devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptop computers and cellular phones, as well as being the basis of what is known as electronic paper.

Marks also has led major advances in the areas of transparent conducting oxides, the organometallic chemistry of lanthanides and actinides, chemical vapor deposition for thin films of interest to the electronics industry, models for metal ion environments in proteins, and catalytically important metal-boron hydride complexes.

Marks has authored 910 articles in peer-reviewed journals, edited six books and holds 88 U.S. patents. He has served on numerous scientific committees, governmental and industrial advisory boards and review panels and is co-author of several major policy documents. He has mentored more than 100 doctoral students and nearly as many postdoctoral fellows, with more than 90 alumni holding academic positions worldwide.
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