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  5. Manos Mavrikakis


2014 College of Engineering
Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication


Manos Mavrikakis Manos Mavrikakis
Chemical and Biological Engineering

If peer citations are an indicator of a scholar's impact on his or her field of study, there’s no doubt that Manos Mavrikakis’ research has heavily impacted the fields of both chemistry and chemical engineering.

Mavrikakis, the Paul A. Elfers professor of chemical and biological engineering, has co-authored more than 140 original publications, including papers in high-impact journals such as Science, Nature Materials, Angewandte Chemie, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Other researchers have cited these publications nearly 9,300 times by April 2014, and Mavrikakis was one of a handful of chemical engineers included on the Thomson-Reuters “Top 100 Chemists in the 2000-2010 decade” list.

Of particular impact, Mavrikakis’ paper, “Ru-Pt core-shell nanoparticles for preferential oxidation of carbon monoxide in hydrogen,” published in Nature Materials, in 2008 has been cited almost 400 times and was the only catalysis related paper selected as a Landmark paper for the first decade of the journal’s existence. “It is quickly becoming a classic in theory-aided design of catalytic materials,” says Charles Campbell, the B. Seymour Rabinovitch chair of chemistry at the University of Washington. “This paper beautifully demonstrated a powerful new approach to doing catalysis research. Thus, it has led to a change in the way that chemical reaction engineering research is now conducted worldwide.”

The paper focuses on using a platinum and ruthenium catalyst material to actively and stably clean hydrogen from CO, a step necessary for the efficient use of H2 as a fuel in fuel cells. The platinum ruthenium material identified by Mavrikakis and colleagues was much cheaper, and works at much lower temperatures than the current state of the art. “This has been a Holy Grail reaction due to its importance rendering hydrocarbon-reformed hydrogen suitable for fuel-cell applications,” says Peter Stair, chair of the Northwestern University chemistry department.

While the research itself has had far-reaching implications, Mavrikakis also has interacted with the people applying his research. “He has been instrumental in engaging the top experimental groups in surface science and catalysis communities worldwide,” says Matthew Neurock, Alice M. & Guy A. Wilson professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at the University of Virginia. “And in demonstrating the tremendous value of closely integrated experimental and theoretical programs.”

His impact is so widespread, in fact, that Campbell recommended Mavrikakis to replace him as editor-in-chief of the journal Surface Science; a position Mavrikakis holds since July 2012. “Mavrikakis is a clear leader in the field of theoretical surface science and heterogeneous catalysis,” says Jens Nørskov, the Leland T. Edwards professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University. “His impact is enormous.”