Each year, the editors of R&D Magazine are tasked with the responsibility of choosing candidates for its top individual award, the Scientist of the Year. For 48 years, this Award has recognized many of the world’s preeminent scientists and most accomplished researchers. Without exception, its recipients have made substantial contributions to their field of study, whether materials science, physics, biology or chemistry.
This year, the editors are pleased to announce the selection of James M. Tour as the 2013 R&D Magazine Scientist of the Year.
The . T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry at Rice Univ., Tour is a synthetic organic chemist who has made numerous contributions to our fundamental understanding of chemistry and materials science, particularly at the nanoscale. His work has resulted in a wealth of practical applications for microscale and nanoscale science, and he, with the contribution of the James M. Tour Group research facility at Rice, has helped make substantial advances in the ability to manipulate small volumes of organic materials.
Just a few of Tour’s scientific research areas include nanoelectronics, graphene electronics and photovoltaics, carbon supercapacitors, lithium ion batteries, chemical self-assembly and carbon nanotube and graphene synthetic modifications. He has also worked extensively on carbon composites, hydrogen storage, and practical applications in medicine and oil recovery for nanoengineered carbon. He is perhaps best known for his carbon-based fullerene-wheeled “nanocars”, a 2005 breakthrough feat in nanoengineering that produced functional, rolling vehicles just a few nanometers in size.
He also built small humanoids using similar technology. An example called the “NanoKid” became the basis for a school-based learning program for children that introduced them to nanoscience. His commitment to science education continued with his more recent Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero science educational package development for middle school education.
Tour received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Syracuse Univ., his Ph.D. in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry from Purdue Univ. He joined the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice Univ. in 1999. Tour has more than 500 research publications, more than 100 patents and averages more than 3,000 citations per year.
The Scientist of the Year Award will be formally presented to Tour on Nov. 7, 2013, at the R&D 100 Awards Banquet and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla.