Manchester academics recognised at 2021 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

Three Manchester academics have been named among the Laureates and Finalists of the prestigious 2021 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists.

Announced today (Wednesday, 9 December) by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences, Professor Daniele Leonori of the Department of Chemistry is one of three Laureates from UK universities who will each receive $100,000 (£76,000) for their work across life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and chemistry.

Now in its fourth year, the award is the largest cash prize available to scientists aged 42 or younger. The recipients are recognised for their research, which is already transforming technology and our understanding of the world.

Dr David Mills, also of the Department of Chemistry, and Professor Artem Mishchenko of the Department of Physics and Astronomy have been named among this year's Finalists, and will both receive $30,000 (£23,000).

The UK has always been recognised and admired for its scientific excellence. Each of this year's Blavatnik Award honourees is a rising star in their respective fields and it is a great pleasure to give them the global recognition they so richly deserve.
Sir Leonard Blavatnik, Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation

Professor Leonori has been honoured for the development of new methods for the formation of chemical bonds between atoms of carbon and nitrogen. His techniques have revolutionised the synthesis of complex molecules by employing photocatalysis - a method to expedite chemical reactions using visible light.

He says: "My research focuses on inventing new photocatalytic pathways to prepare nitrogenated molecules like drugs and agrochemicals. I am deeply honored to be named the Blavatnik Laureate in Chemistry for the United Kingdom and I owe this success to my outstanding students and postdoctoral researchers. It is their hard work and continuous ability to surprise me with new ways to look at chemistry that has led to all of our major discoveries."

Dr Mills is recognised for making a critical discovery that has revitalised the field of single-molecule magnets, paving the way for their practical use. These single-molecule magnets have potential applications in high-density data storage and quantum computing.

"I am both humbled and delighted to be selected as a Blavatnik Awards honoree in recognition of the combined work of my group and our collaborators over the last eight years. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank family, friends, colleagues and mentors for their continued help and support. Our group at Manchester continues to target making and measuring challenging molecules that have no right to exist, which inspires me on a daily basis," Dr Mills explains.

Professor Mishchenko has been recognised for revealing unusual quantum phenomena in vertical, multilayer stacks of two-dimensional materials, in particular those that hold great potential in the development of novel electronic transistors for light-emitting diodes (LEDs), high-speed electronics, and information storage.

He says: "Two-dimensional crystals can be assembled in a very precise way into van der Waals heterostructures. This recent van der Waals technology allows creating designer materials with endless possibilities for discovery of novel physics with a promise of numerous potential applications. I am proud that I contribute to this exciting research direction and want to thank all the collaborators and colleagues for their help and support."

The Laureates and Finalists will be honoured, as pandemic restrictions allow, at a black-tie gala dinner and ceremony at Banqueting House in London, tentatively scheduled for 8 June 2021. The following day the honourees will present their research with a series of short, interactive lectures at a free public symposium entitled 'Innovating for a Better Future: Nine Young Scientists Transforming our World'.

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