Mercouri G. Kanatzidis. Thirty years of contributions to materials and inorganic chemistry

Qichun Zhang a, Gerasimos S. Armatas b and Jennifer A. Aitken c
aSchool of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798, Singapore
bDepartment of Materials Science and Technology, University of Crete, GR-71003 Vassilika Vouton, Heraklion, Greece
cDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA

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It is our great honor to write this Editorial for the themed collection in honour of Professor Mercouri G. Kanatzidis for his scientific contributions to materials and inorganic chemistry over the past 30 years, as well as to mark the occasion of his 60th birthday. Mercouri, as one of the leading scientists adopting revolutionary pathways and innovative ideas for shaping and advancing the field of materials and solid-state chemistry, has many remarkable achievements in the fields of synthetic inorganic chemistry, exploratory synthesis and the development of new functional materials, including perovskite materials with applications in solar cells, thermoelectrics, nanostructured chalcogenide materials, complex intermetallic phases, and superconductors.

Mercouri was born in 1957 in Thessaloniki, Greece. After he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1979, he made his way to the United States and received his PhD degree in chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1984. Subsequently (from 1985 to 1987), he worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the chemistry departments at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. In 1987, he joined Michigan State University as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1991 and Professor in 1993. In 2006, he moved to Northwestern University as the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry. He also holds a position at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL, Chicago) as a Senior Scientist (since 2006).

Mercouri has been recognized through a number of prestigious awards for the scientific accomplishments attained during his career, including the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation in 1989, the award of Alfred P. Sloan Fellow in 1991, the Beckman Young Investigator Award in 1992, the award of Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teaching Scholar in 1993, the award of Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in 2002, and the Alexander von Humboldt Prize in 2003. In addition, he received the Einstein Professor Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the International Thermoelectric Society Outstanding Achievement Award and the MRS Medal in 2014, the RSC De Gennes Prize, the ENI Award for the “Renewable Energy Prize” category in 2015, the ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry and the honour of being named an APS Fellow in 2016, and the Samson Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation in 2016. In 2017, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Crete, Greece. His scientific excellence and innovative thinking are exemplified by high-profile publications in various fields of research over the years. The originality, diversity and prolificacy of the research contributions from Prof. Kanatzidis are evident from over 1000 publications and over 35 patents, which have led to an impressive citation record (more than 50[thin space (1/6-em)]000 citations and an h-index of over 100, according to Google Scholar).

During the last three decades, Mercouri and his group have discovered and explored a panorama of new inorganic materials, with pioneering accomplishments in complex synthesis approaches, structural characterization, physical property measurements, and the analysis of electronic structures. His research has generated seminal work in synthetic chemistry and the development of new functional materials. He has been active in the field of new thermoelectric materials for the past twenty years. He has also studied nanoporous chalcogenide semiconductors, complex intermetallic phases and superconductors. He has interests in the synthetic design and prediction of new phases, especially those that can cause disruptive changes in scientific thinking and in technology.

Mercouri often sets himself apart from other researchers in the field because, instead of being tied to the pursuit of one particular material property, for example thermoelectric materials, he has always embraced the idea of finding new materials for the sake of discovery, no matter their use, known or as yet unknown. Not only does Mercouri have a knack for finding new materials, he also sets an example for others in the field when it comes to the full structural and physicochemical characterization of these materials. Mercouri has always had the idea that each material discovered could have some purpose and that it is our responsibility as inorganic solid-state materials chemists to discover the potential use of all new materials.

In this themed collection, a selection of articles that have been authored by researchers who have been closely associated with Mercouri – as students, postdoctoral researchers and colleagues – are featured. The collection covers a diverse spectrum of topics within the fields of materials science and inorganic chemistry. We are sure that Prof. Kanatzidis and his group will continue to surprise us with novel findings and discoveries. We are delighted to wish you a very happy 60th birthday and we hope that you will enjoy many more years of excellent health, creative science, and great happiness with your family and companions.

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