Web Date: June 11, 2007
Hiroo Inokuchi Wins Kyoto Prize
Chemist Hiroo Inokuchi, 80, has won the 2007 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology for his fundamental contributions to organic and molecular electronics. He will receive a gold medal and a cash gift of approximately $410,000 during a Nov. 10 ceremony in Kyoto, Japan.
Inokuchi, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and the Institute for Molecular Science of Japan's National Institutes of Natural Sciences, pioneered research on electronic processes in semiconducting organic molecules, such as rubrene and p-terphenyl, and demonstrated that such molecules could serve as useful materials for electronic components.
Inokuchi also studied charge transport in organic semiconducting molecules, developed ultraviolet photo-electron spectroscopy for organic thin films, and demonstrated the catalytic activity of some organic materials.
Inokuchi says he is happy that his work has been "in-ternationally appreciated at last." He points out that he began his studies of organic compounds 60 years ago, when he was 19 and a college sophomore.
"He was doing this kind of work long before the field became very active," says Ananth Dodabalapur, a pro-fessor of engineering at the University of Texas, Austin.
Dodabalapur says Inokuchi has been semiretired for several years, and he's not surprised that Inokuchi's name is not more widely recognized. "You've got to delve into the subject in some detail to come across his work," Dodabalapur says. "He did a lot of the unglamor-ous work, the real hard science. But many of the things we now take for granted, if you dig back far enough, you'll find that Inokuchi was one of the first to look into it."
Inokuchi tells C&EN that he is still working to dis-cover novel organic semiconductors.
This year's other winners of the Kyoto Prize are geophysicist Hiroo Kanamori of California Institute of Technology and German choreographer and artistic director Pina Bausch of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. The Kyoto Prize is given in the categories of advanced technology, basic sciences, and arts and phi-losophy to recognize people who have contributed sig-nificantly to the betterment of mankind.
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