"Pioneering and leadership role in developing a new interdisciplinary field in which complex biological macromolecules are used to assemble inorganic nanoparticle building blocks into functional meso- and macroscopic structures."
Chad A. Mirkin received his undergraduate training at Dickinson College (B.S., 1986) and his graduate training at The Pennsylvania State University, where he completed his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1989. That same year, he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. Mirkin joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 1991 as assistant professor of chemistry and in 1995, he was promoted to associate professor. In 1997, at the age of 33, he became Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry.
Mirkin has a multidisciplinary research program that focuses on problems at the interfaces of organometallic chemistry, surface chemistry, and electrochemistry. His research has centered on two main topics: 1) the rational design of hybrid materials for electrochemically controlling transition metal stoichiometric and catalytic reactivity, and 2) surface coordination chemistry and design. Mirkin's contributions in the first area have provided an understanding of the important fundamental considerations necessary to control the coordination environments of transition metal centers through appropriate polymeric ligand design and a triggered outer or inner sphere electron transfer event. His contributions in the second area have increased our understanding of the relationship between two-dimensional film structure and function as it pertains to electron transfer and photoreactivity. In the general area of surface design, Mirkin has pioneered the surface modification chemistry of high-temperature superconductors. He also has identified and developed a new interdisciplinary field that focuses on using complex biomolecules to assemble nanoscale inorganic building blocks into functional meso- and macroscopic structures.
Mirkin has won numerous awards for his research, including the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry, the E. Bright Wilson Prize, the Phi Lambda Upsilon Fresenious Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an NSF Young Investigator Award, an A.P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, an ONR Young Investigator Award, a DuPont New Professor Award and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. In 1997, he was co-recipient of a prestigious B.F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Award for one of the three most outstanding collegiate inventions in all of medicine, science and engineering.
Mirkin is the author or co-author of over 70 publications and six patents and is an active consultant with several major chemical companies.