Photo of Professor Mircea Dinca

Mircea Dincă wins 2021 Blavatnik National Award

Categories: Awards, Faculty

The Blavatnik National Awards Jury has selected Professor Mircea Dincă as the 2021 Laureate in Chemistry.

Mircea Dincă, the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, has been named this year’s Blavatnik National Awards Laureate in Chemistry by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences. This illustrious award, consisting of $250,000, is the largest unrestricted scientific prize for America’s most innovative young faculty-rank scientists and engineers. It has been given in recognition of Dincă’s contributions to the advancement of the human condition through scientific progress.

Dincă has discovered ways to make certain porous materials, known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), highly conductive—unlocking many new applications in sustainability, from gas and vapor sensing to energy conversion and storage. He has revolutionized the field of MOFs by building them out of specific organic molecules that can both form charges and conduct electricity, thereby linking the metal atoms together to create a solid that is both porous and conducting. Dincă has partnered with Lamborghini to use these new supercapacitors to power future high-performance vehicles, and he co-founded Transaera, a startup building MOF-based air-cooling devices that consume less than half the energy of conventional air conditioners.

“Mircea Dincă has been widely recognized as the consensus leader in the field of conducting metal-organic frameworks, a field that he himself invented,” said Scott E. Denmark (SB ’75), the Reynold C. Fuson Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the chair of the 2021 Blavatnik National Awards Chemistry Jury. “His creativity, his deep understanding of fundamental principles and their application to solving important chemical problems and his tremendous productivity led him to be selected by the jury to be the 2021 Blavatnik National Awards Laureate in Chemistry.”

Dincă’s fellow laureates are Professor Kay M. Tye of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Professor Andrea Alù of the City University of New York.

“These remarkable scientists and engineers are expanding our world through their groundbreaking research,” said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences. “Their discoveries are improving the human experience and the future will be made better by their work and innovations.”

The 2021 Blavatnik National Awards competition received 298 nominees from 157 research institutions across 38 states. The three independent juries—one for each of the awards’ categories of life sciences, chemistry and physical sciences and engineering—were composed of some of America’s most distinguished scientists.

“The pandemic of the past year has shown that the world needs science, now more than ever,” said Nicholas B. Dirks, the New York Academy of Sciences’ president and CEO. “These new Blavatnik National Awards Laureates for 2021 have forged new ways to use scientific research to create new and important understandings about ourselves and the world in which we live. We welcome these brilliant young scientists into the global community that is the New York Academy of Sciences.”

Dincă, Tye, and Alù, along with the 31 finalists, a roster that includes Frederick George Keyes Professor of Chemistry Danna Freedman, will be honored at a ceremony this fall at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.