This year’s Wacker Silicone Award, which includes € 10,000 prize money, goes to Akira Sekiguchi, professor of organic chemistry at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. The chemical company appreciates Sekiguchi’s “outstanding achievement in the field of oranosilicon chemistry”. The research work is relvant to novel, high-energy storage systems.
Munich/Germany – In 2003, the recipient was the first to synthesize molecules with stable silicon-silicon triple bonds and to characterize them by means of X-ray crystallography. These and numerous other studies have made Sekiguchi a pioneer in the field organosilicon research, stressed Dr. Christian Hartel, president of Wacker Silicones, in his introductory speech. The award was presented at the Axica Conference Center in Berlin as part of the 17th International Symposium on Silicon Chemistry and the 7th European Silicon Days.
The Wacker Silicone Award is presented by the Munich-based chemical group every other year. Along with the Kipping Award, it ranks among the world’s most prestigious honors in the field of organosilicon chemistry. “Over the past 20 years, Professor Sekiguchi has presented an incredible wealth of new findings,” said Hartel before an audience of roughly 250. “His scientific studies have had a pivotal influence on silicon research and have given us a deeper understanding of structures containing low-valent silicon.”
In more than 250 publications, Sekiguchi has described a large number of synthesis reactions and compounds. These include, among others, mixed five-membered aromatic rings that consist of three silicon and two carbon atoms each and that are of interest for applications in future lighting materials.
The 62-year-old scientist was also the first to synthesize highly branched, tree-like polymers based on silicon. Surface catalysis represents one field of application for these molecules. Sekiguchi also described stable, cyclic radicals based on silicon that are of importance for developing future high-energy storage systems. The potential of these research results is currently under investigation in collaboration with Japanese automaker Toyota.
Sekiguchi’s synthesis of a stable disilyne attracted considerable attention in 2003. Disilynes are molecules containing a silicon-silicon triple bond. The carbon chemistry analogs of these compounds are the alkynes, of which acetylene is the simplest representative. Because disilynes are highly reactive, their existence had previously been in doubt. Sekiguchi overcame this hurdle through the use of bulky ligands, which have a steric shielding effect that protects the triple bond. He was able to verify the triple bond through X-ray crystallography. This achievement is considered a milestone in organosilicon research.