IUPAC announces the top ten emerging technologies in chemistry

Research Triangle Park, NC, April 1, 2019 – The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has released the results of its first search for the Top Ten Emerging Technologies in Chemistry. Initiated by the Chemistry International (CI) Editorial Board in 2018 as a special activity in honor of IUPAC’s 100th anniversary this year, the results have just been published in the 2019 April-June 2019 issue of CI (ref. 1, DOI) and will be presented at the spring National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Orlando, FL, during a symposium being held today in honor of IUPAC’s anniversary.

Colin Humphris, Chair of the CI Editorial Board, has said “that while the initiative began as a way to kick-off IUPAC’s anniversary year in a very visible way, the ultimate objectives hopefully will have a far greater long-term impact. Our end goal is to showcase the value of Chemistry (and chemists!) and inform the general public as to how the chemical sciences contribute to the well-being of Society and the sustainability of Planet Earth.” An added bonus, he noted, “will be to increase interest in IUPAC’s global activities and build brand awareness for Chemistry International.” Humphris said that the CI Editorial Board has agreed to make this activity an annual event with the results being published in April issues of Chemistry International for the foreseeable future.

This initial search was led by Javier Garcia-Martinez, a member of IUPAC’s Executive Committee and the CI Board Member who suggested the initiative. For clarification, Garcia-Martinez defined the term “emerging technology” as “one that is between a new scientific discovery and a fully-commercialized technology.” He went on to say that “it usually will involve a solid understanding of the technology, some type of prototype or even some start-up companies that are working to commercialize the technology. Most importantly, the technology needed to be exciting and have the capacity to open up new opportunities in chemistry and beyond and help to solve major global problems.” In addition, he noted that the term “chemistry” was used in its broadest sense, including materials science, nanotechnology, and biochemistry.

The call for nominations for the emerging technologies was released in the spring of 2018 and by fall sufficient nominations had been received. A panel of judges* was established so that the final decision would be made by an objective, unbiased, international group of experts and not by IUPAC itself. The judges reviewed and discussed the pool of nominations, and ultimately selected the final top ten. These are (in alphabetical order): 3D-bioprinting, Directed evolution of selective enzymes, Enantio-selective organocatalysis, Flow chemistry, Metal Organic Frameworks for water harvesting, Nanopesticides, Plastics to monomers, Reactive extrusion, Reversible-deactivation of radical polymerization, and Solid-state batteries.

The next search for the Top Ten Emerging Technologies in Chemistry will officially begin this summer and will be led by Prof. Dr. Michael Droescher, Treasurer and General Secretary of the German Association for the Advancement of Science and Medicine. Droescher served as a judge for the initial search and wrote an article for Chemistry International on a search by the World Economic Forum who published their choice of the top ten emerging technologies of 2017 with limited reference to chemistry (ref 2, DOI).

“Chemistry is the driving force for emerging technologies, but it is so pervasive that it is often overlooked and taken for granted, Droescher said. “This new IUPAC initiative will help to raise chemistry’s profile and reinforce its essential role in the advancement of science and technology. I am looking forward to moving it forward.”

For more information, contact Fabienne Meyers, IUPAC Associate Director and Editor, Chemistry International (fabienne@iupac.org). The call for nominations for the 2020 Top Ten Emerging Technologies in Chemistry will be released in July in time for the opening of the 2019 IUPAC World Chemistry Congress. Look for it in the news section of the IUPAC website.

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*The following comprised the panel of judges for the 2019 Top Ten Emerging Technologies in Chemistry: Chair, Javier García-Martínez (Universidad de Alicante, Spain); Michael Droescher (German Association for the Advancement of Science and Medicine), Carolyn Ribes (Dow), Ken Sakai (Kyushu University, Japan), and Bernard West (Life Sciences Ontario).

Refs.
1. Gomollon-Bel, F., Ten Chemical Innovations That Will Change Our World, Chem Int, 41(2), pp. 12-17, 2019; https://doi.org/10.1515/ci-2019-0203
2. Droescher, M., Chemistry: The Driving Force for Emerging Technologies, Chem Int, 40(4), pp. 14-17, 2018; https://doi.org/10.1515/ci-2018-0405

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