VinFuture Prize Laureates

Professor Omar M. Yaghi
Innovators With Outstanding Achievements In Emerging Fields | 2021

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California-Berkeley, College of Chemistry, USA

Omar M. Yaghi received his B.S. from State University of New York at Albany (1985) and Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1990). He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University (1990-92).

He started his independent career as an assistant professor in 1992 at Arizona State University, moved to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as Robert W. Parry Professor of Chemistry in 1999, and then UCLA in 2006 as Christopher S. Foote Professor of Chemistry and Irving and Jean Stone Chair Professor in Physical Sciences.

Since 2012 he has been the James and Neeltje Tretter Chair Professor of Chemistry at University of California, Berkeley. He is the Founding Director of the Berkeley Global Science Institute, and the Co-Director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute, and the California Research Alliance by BASF.


Omar M. Yaghi has been awarded this prize for scientific advancement for his pioneering work on the discovery and development of metal-organic framework and covalent organic framework materials which have the potential to improve the everyday lives of millions of people.

In 1995, Dr. Yaghi reported the successful preparation and crystallization of the first strongly-bonded porous framework, which has become an extensive class of porous materials named metal−organic frameworks (MOFs). His strong bond approach, where metal ions are joined by charged organic linkers exemplified by carboxylates, followed by proof of the MOF porosity in 1998 and discovery of their ultrahigh porosity in 1999, set off a worldwide chain reaction leading to the development of reticular chemistry and properties. In 2005 he extended his approach to design and crystallization of the first 2D covalent organic frameworks (COFs) and in 2007 3D COFs. MOF and COF chemistry is now being practiced worldwide.


Yaghi’s invention of MOFs and COFs helps in achieving cleaner air, cleaner energy, and cleaner water. Dr. Yaghi’s MOF water harvester has the demonstrated potential of providing clean water anywhere at any time of the year and ultimately give people water independence.

These nanoporous structures can be used for the capture, storage, separation, and controlled chemistry of a wide range of gases and molecules. They have a wide range of potential applications in support of the transition to zero net carbon, purification, catalysis, and sensing.