Mercouri Kanatzidis, chemistry, has been awarded the prestigious Eric and Sheila Samson Prize for his innovative scientific contributions to the alternative fuel development. He will split the $1 million award with co-winner Gregory Stephanopoulos from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kanatzidis was honored for his seminal contributions in the design of nanostructured thermoelectric materials, which convert heat to electricity. Thermoelectrics are semiconductors that convert waste heat into electricity. By harvesting waste heat, thermoelectric materials can save energy in many thermal processes — including in automobiles — significantly increasing vehicle mileage and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Kanatzidis’ research has contributed to a deeper fundamental understanding of the thermoelectric process and opened paths to further breakthroughs.
Stephanopoulos is a pioneer in metabolic engineering and has made seminal contributions to the engineering of microbes for biofuels production.
The Samson Prize — awarded by Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, and Keren Hayesod, the official fundraising organization for Israel — is the world’s largest monetary honor in the field of alternative fuels. Annual winners are selected from a long list of worthy candidates recommended by university presidents and CEOs from around the world.
Kanatzidis and Stephanopoulos will be honored on November 2 during the Fuel Choices Conference in Tel Aviv.