UCSB Professor Galen Stucky may be on the short list for Nobel honors, according to Thomson Reuters, which counts the number of times a professional paper has been cited in subsequent papers to gather its list of Citation Laureates — a list that has frequently presaged a Nobel prize. Stucky is most frequently in citations for his work on “functional mesoporous materials,” or materials with tiny pores of 2-50 nanometers. Though the pores are infinitesimal, together they can add up to a large surface area.
Stucky’s work involved the use of silica to create hexagonal meso materials that have been used for delivering drugs and for controlled-release drugs, and in bio-sensors, which combine a biological element and an electrical transducer to produce an electrical signal. Commercially, mesoporous materials are currently used to separate chemicals using chromatography columns and also to separate nanoscale electronic components in their function as low dielectric interfaces. Stucky explained that these tiny materials are being actively studied for use in polymer reinforcement, since they are lightweight and strong; catalysis involving large molecules such as biomolecules or heavier fossil fuel molecular species; and to create optical biomarkers to find specific biosites in the body, such as tumors.
Also named by Thomson Reuters in the chemistry category are Charles Kresge of Saudi Aramco, who has proven that aluminum silicates can be made in the lab with pores of differing sizes, and Ryong Ryoo of Korea Advanced Institute of Science, who has pioneered a technique to produce carbon mesotubes.
As well as being a professor in UCSB’s department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and the College of Engineering’s Materials Department, Stucky holds a seat at the College of Letters & Science endowed by E. Khashoggi Industries.