In Memoriam: Wolfgang Sachtler (1924-2017)

Wolfgang SachtlerThe catalysis community mourns the loss of one of its formative and most influential figures, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Max Hugo Sachtler, who passed away on January 8, 2017. Born on November 8, 1924 in Delitzsch, Germany, Professor Sachtler received his PhD from the Technical University Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany in 1952, in the area of surface science. Upon graduation, he joined the Royal Dutch Shell Laboratory in Amsterdam where he stayed until retirement as Director of Fundamental Research in 1983. From 1963-84, he held a joint appointment as Professor at the National University in Leiden. He was particularly known for his insightful application of surface science concepts to catalysis. While at Shell and Leiden, he advanced the concept of relationship between metal-oxygen bond energy and the selectivity for partial oxidation products in hydrocarbon oxidations, initiated insightful discussions on whether molecular or atomic oxygen is necessary for selective epoxidation of ethylene, applied thermodynamics and experimental measurements to metal alloys to account for the effects of the surface compositions of alloys to their binding of adsorbates, and promoted the description of bimetallic catalysis in terms of ensemble and ligand effects.

He joined Northwestern University in Evanston in 1983 as the V.N. Ipatieff Professor of Catalytic Chemistry and the first Director of the Center for Catalysis and Surface Science, where he continued his prolific and influential professional career. He was a leading figure in the design, synthesis, and detailed investigation of genesis of metallic particles in zeolites, their chemical properties, and catalytic reaction mechanisms. He provided the first evidence of proton-induced cationic metal clusters in zeolite. Later, he broadened his research portfolio to include NOx abatement by selective catalytic reduction strategies and hydrocarbon conversions catalyzed by strong acids. He was among the first to recognize that trace amounts of alkenes were necessary for the low temperature isomerization of butane over sulfated zirconia. In all, he contributed 440 scholarly publications to the literature.

His work was recognized with the E. V. Murphree Award and the Petroleum Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society, the Eugène Houdry Award of the North American Catalysis Society, the Rideal Lectureship Award of Faraday Div. Royal. Chem. Soc., R.L. Burwell Lectureship Award of North American Catalysis Society, François Gault Lectureship Award of European Fed. of Catalysis Societies, German Society Coal and Fuel Science award (DGMK-Kolleg). He was a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.

In addition to his many scientific contributions, many of his friends and colleagues would remember his welcoming and friendly personality and his consistent willingness to help. He offered a very timely helping hand to help professional colleagues as they sought to escape Eastern Europe during the cold war era. He guided various young scientists at Shell and at Leiden who later became leading figures in the field. At Northwestern, he mentored a large number of students and post-doctoral fellows, many of them have taken leadership positions in companies and who would pay him frequent visits, some as recent as late last year.

He is survived by his wife of over 60 years Anne-Lore and by three children and grandchildren.
 
Harold Kung
Northwestern University
 
The Northwestern web site also contains a statement celebrating the accomplishments of Professor Sachtler (http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/2017/01/emeritus-professor-wolfgang-sachtler-passes-away.html)

Obituary for Professor Khi-Rui Tsai

Professor Khi-Rui Tsai, a prominent professor of Xiamen University and a member of Chinese Academy of Sciences, passed away peacefully on October 3rd 2016 in Xiamen at his age of 104.

Professor Tsai is a famous physical chemist and catalysis scientist. He is a pioneer of coordination catalysis and molecular catalysis in China. In 1960s, he developed theoretical concepts of catalysis by coordination activation, and applied the principles of coordination catalysis to correlate several types of homogeneous catalysis, heterogeneous catalysis and metallo-enzyme catalysis systems. In 1970s, he and Prof. Jia-Xi Lu proposed independently, from different approaches, essentially similar cluster-structural models of Mo-nitrogenase active centers and multi-nuclear coordination activation of various types of known substrates of nitrogenase. Professor Tsai led a team at Xiamen University with an aim to bridge the gap between enzyme catalysis and heterogeneous catalysis since 1970s. He and his co-workers systematically carried out comparative studies on the models of active centers and reaction mechanisms for nitrogenase enzymes and for heterogeneous ammonia-synthesis catalysts. The team also studied the effects of ionic promoters in N2 hydrogenation to ammonia and CO hydrogenation to methanol and ethanol. Professor Tsai proposed a unique mechanism for the direct conversion of syngas to ethanol. Up to 1997, Professor Tsai published more than 200 research articles. He got three times the State Natural Science Award owing to his outstanding contribution to catalysis science. In 1999, he was awarded the He-Liang-He-Li Foundation Award for Progress in Science and Technology.

In addition to the scientific activity, Professor Tsai also served as a member of the 3rd national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the deputy to the 3rd, 4th and 5th National People’s Congress and a member of the Academic Degree Commission of the State Council. He was the vice president of Xiamen University and the director of the Scientific Academic Committee of Xiamen University. Professor Tsai also served as a council member of International Association of Catalysis Societies (IACS). Professor Tsai is also a big educator. He was a remarkable ambassador for Xiamen University and a shining example of what all educators should aspire to be. He imbued his students with firm ideals and beliefs, provided them with a strong moral compass, guided them using his incredible wealth of knowledge, and treated them all with benevolence.

Professor Tsai’s passing is a massive loss not only to Xiamen University but also to the catalysis community in China. Professor Tsai will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, students and those who work in catalysis field.

In Memoriam: Juan F. Garcia de la Banda (1921-2015)

Juan_F_Garcia_de_la_BandaJuan Francisco García de la Banda was born in Madrid (Spain) in 1921. He studied Chemistry and Mathematics in the Universities of Valladolid, Oviedo and Madrid, completing his Bachelor Degree in 1943. In 1948 he presented his PhD dissertation (“Relation between calorific conductivity and vapor pressure of high boiling point substances”) supervised by Professors Foz-Gazulla and Colomina and carried out at the Instituto de Química Física “Rocasolano” (IQFR) of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

He studied in Bristol between 1951 and 1952 with Professor William E. Garner with Dr. Dennis A. Dowden at the Catalysis Group at ICI. Afterwards, he returned to Spain, within the framework of the IQFR and founded the “Laboratory on Catalysis”, which became the birthplace of the Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica (ICP) in 1975. He was the first Director of the ICP and the individual most responsible for enhancing the scope and quality of research in catalysis and biocatalysis in Spain.

He participated in the First International Conference on Catalysis (ICC) held in Philadelphia in 1956 and maintained personal and professional links with many U.S. catalysis researchers, especially through his personal friendship with Dr. Heinz Heinemann throughout their careers. He proposed and organized the 1st Iberoamerican Symposium on Catalysis, held in Madrid in 1968, the first in a series that will celebrate its 25th edition this year in Montevideo.

Professor Garcia de la Banda served in several influential positions within the research and development and scientific structure at the highest levels in the government of Spain. He is without doubt the most influential and impactful promoter of catalysis research in Spain in the 20th century and the key individual in the formative years of the catalysis community in Spain.
His presence and his sage advice will be missed.
 
Dr. Enrique Sastre
Vice-Director, Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica, CSIC,
Madrid, Spain.

In Memoriam: John T. Yates, Jr. (1935-2015)

John_YatesProfessor John T. Yates, Jr. received his B.S. degree from Juniata College and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from M.I.T. After three years as Assistant Professor at Antioch College, he joined the National Bureau of Standards, first as a NRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow and then as a member of its scientific staff. His research in the fields of surface chemistry and physics, including both the structure and spectroscopy of surface species, the dynamics of surface processes, and the development of new methods for research in surface chemistry, kept him at the forefront of this field of science throughout his long and distinguished career.

Professor Yates joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1982 as the first R.K. Mellon Professor of Chemistry and as Founding Director of the University of Pittsburgh Surface Science Center. He established and led the Surface Science Center and mentored 40 Ph.D students and more than 100 senior researchers at Pittsburgh. He moved to the University of Virginia in 2006 as a Professor and Shannon Research Fellow; there, he established a new research program in Surface Science and became active in the new field of astrochemistry.

Professor Yates served as Associate Editor of Chemical Reviews and of ACS Langmuir and on the Advisory Boards of Chemical & Engineering News and Chemistry World. He was active as a member of the AVS Boards of Directors and Trustees and as Chair of the AVS Surface Science Division, the APS Division of Chemical Physics, and the ACS Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. He chaired three Gordon Research Conferences.

He was the recipient of the AVS Medard Welch Award, the ACS Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry, the ACS Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry, and an Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. During his distinguished career, he co-authored more than 700 articles in the leading journals of chemistry and physics.

We mourn his passing as we celebrate his achievements.