'Brilliant scientist' wins 2010 AkzoNobel Science Award

16 July 2010

An internationally renowned Dutch scientist responsible for several major advances in polymer and organic chemistry has won the 2010 AkzoNobel Science Award.

Distinguished professor Bert Meijer, from Eindhoven University of Technology and active community-member of DPI, was conferred the honor after the jury cited his numerous achievements in materials science and polymer chemistry. These have included introducing patented technology which led to the development of the first nano-container (also called the dendritic box), and the synthesis and development of supramolecular polymers.

"Bert Meijer is a highly motivated, creative and versatile scientist with a real feeling for science at the highest level and for finding innovative applications for materials developed in his laboratory," stated the judging panel in its consideration. "He is an enterprising and brilliant scientist who gives inspiring leadership to innovative, cutting-edge scientific research with clear practical relevance."

Meijer was the first scientist able to translate the idea of a supramolecular polymer into a viable product with polymer-like properties. This discovery led to a patent in 1997 and later to the foundation of start-up company SupraPolix, which commercializes new materials based on these concepts.

Among his most remarkable organic constructs are the ureidopyrimidinone-based supramolecular polymers, where the monomers are held together by four hydrogen bonds. This research work caused a worldwide revolution in this particular branch of science. Meijer and his team also studied other non-covalent interactions, such as the pi-pi interactions between large organic molecules carrying long hydrocarbon chains. His current interest lies in the numerous possibilites of complex molecular systems, where multiple components interact to arrive at novel functional properties.

An elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, Meijer has received various research awards, including the 2006 Polymer Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society and the 2001 Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research's Spinoza Prize, which is widely regarded as being the Dutch equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Meijer will officially receive the 2010 AkzoNobel Science Award and the accompanying €50,000 prize at a ceremony being held on October 7 at the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities in Haarlem.

The AkzoNobel Science Awards are presented annually in recognition of outstanding scientific contributions by individuals in the fields of chemistry and materials science. First bestowed in the Netherlands in 1970 - when it was known as the Akzo Prize - the presentation of the award was extended to Sweden in 1999, when it was re-named the AkzoNobel Science Award.

To reflect the global nature of the company and in particular its growing presence in Asia, the presentation of the honor has recently been further extended to China. The AkzoNobel Science Awards are now handed out in the Netherlands and Sweden in alternate years and in China every other year.

The judging is in the hands of an independent panel of judges - in the Netherlands under the expert leadership of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, in Sweden under the Royal Institute for Engineering Sciences, and in China under the Chinese Chemical Society.