Texas chemist wins national award for materials research

March 25, 2001

Chemist F. Albert Cotton of Bryan, Texas, will be honored April 3 by the world's largest scientific society for his fundamental achievements in making new materials and understanding their structures and properties. He will receive the 2001 Award in Organometallic Chemistry from the American Chemical Society at its 221st national meeting in San Diego.

Early in his career, Cotton participated in the discovery of a completely new kind of compound. Fifty years later, that experience "still impels me to look for the really, really new," said Cotton, distinguished professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University, College Station. "I've never been interested in making a second example of anything."

His field, in which colleagues call him a pioneer, is organometallic chemistry - the overlap between inorganic and organic chemistry. While most chemistry is aimed at making organic products - plastics, pharmaceuticals and fuel, to name a few - the processes that make them are largely inorganic, he said.

"So the purpose of my research is to elucidate fundamental principles that control the formation of new forms of matter," explained Cotton. "This way we understand how to make things that don't already exist, but may be useful." An example is plastics - compounds now so ubiquitous that it's hard to imagine life without them, he noted, but designed completely by humans, never nature.

He and his team constantly try new combinations of materials, chemical principles, or both. They then study the products down to their atoms, determining their structures with X rays and measuring their electrical, reactive and other properties.

"This is very much a one-thing-leads-to-another game," he said. "Every question answered, if it's good research, should raise at least one or probably two more."

Cotton said he can't remember a time he wasn't interested in science and chemistry. "I was building amateur radios and bought my own chemicals and equipment (for experiments) even when I was young," he remembered.

Cotton received his undergraduate degree from Temple University in 1951 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1955. He is a member of the ACS inorganic division.
-end-
The ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry is sponsored by the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation.

American Chemical Society

Related Chemistry Articles from Brightsurf:

Searching for the chemistry of life
In the search for the chemical origins of life, researchers have found a possible alternative path for the emergence of the characteristic DNA pattern: According to the experiments, the characteristic DNA base pairs can form by dry heating, without water or other solvents.

Sustainable chemistry at the quantum level
University of Pittsburgh Associate Professor John A. Keith is using new quantum chemistry computing procedures to categorize hypothetical electrocatalysts that are ''too slow'' or ''too expensive'', far more thoroughly and quickly than was considered possible a few years ago.

Can ionic liquids transform chemistry?
Table salt is a commonplace ingredient in the kitchen, but a different kind of salt is at the forefront of chemistry innovation.

Principles for a green chemistry future
A team led by researchers from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies recently authored a paper featured in Science that outlines how green chemistry is essential for a sustainable future.

Sugar changes the chemistry of your brain
The idea of food addiction is a very controversial topic among scientists.

Reflecting on the year in chemistry
A lot can happen in a year, especially when it comes to science.

Better chemistry through tiny antennae
A research team at The University of Tokyo has developed a new method for actively controlling the breaking of chemical bonds by shining infrared lasers on tiny antennae.

Chemistry in motion
For the first time, researchers have managed to view previously inaccessible details of certain chemical processes.

Researchers enrich silver chemistry
Researchers from Russia and Saudi Arabia have proposed an efficient method for obtaining fundamental data necessary for understanding chemical and physical processes involving substances in the gaseous state.

The chemistry behind kibble (video)
Have you ever thought about how strange it is that dogs eat these dry, weird-smelling bits of food for their entire lives and never get sick of them?

Read More: Chemistry News and Chemistry Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.