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McBain Medal Awarded to Professor Adam Lee

4 May 2011

Professor Adam Lee

Professor Adam Lee has been awarded the 2011 McBain Medal of the Society of Chemical Industry and Royal Society of Chemistry for his contributions to colloid and surface science.  The McBain Medal is an annual award honouring a younger scientist who has made a meritorious contribution to colloid and interface science, a broad theme underpinning many important commercial technologies in use around the world today, including medical therapies, paints, corrosion prevention and catalysis.

Adam's particular interest is in the field of catalysis, the ability to transform individual atoms and molecules into new valuable products, such pharmaceutical medicines, fuels, and fertilisers, that ultimately improve our health, power our homes, and put food on our tables. In the past, discovering and designing new solid materials to perform as catalysts has relied upon the combination of good scientific ideas and sheer luck! This reflects the complex way in which chemicals interact with catalyst surfaces, which ideally should remain unchanged over thousands of working cycles. Adam's work uses state-of-the-art analytical tools to visualise how molecules react at the catalyst surface, enabling him to identify the key component responsible for accelerating chemistry. This insight helps Adam's research group engineer new catalysts at the nanoscale (0.000000001 metres!) with carefully designed architectures perfect for the clean manufacture of e.g. exotic fragrances and flavourings, or sustainable 'biofuels' to combat climate change.