HKU chemist earns UNESCO award

Updated: 2010-11-11 06:56

By Michelle Fei(HK Edition)

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A Hong Kong chemist has been named as recipient of the world-renowned "Women in Science Awards 2011."

"It feels lonely to conduct scientific research in a final-oriented city like Hong Kong," Vivian Yam, a 47-year-old chemistry and energy professor at the University of Hong Kong told a press conference Wednesday.

"It was my privilege to accept the award and I'd love to take this as recognition of the achievements of Hong Kong scientists, especially female scientists." She added.

 HKU chemist earns UNESCO award

"Women in Science Award" winner Chemist Vivian Yam introduces the new light-emitting molecular functional materials she designed and synthesized to the press Wednesday. Provided to China Daily

The Women in Science Awards, co-founded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the L'Oreal Group in 1998, is given annually to five outstanding female scientists all over the world. In celebration of the centenary of Marie Curie's winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011, the theme of the award was titled "Female and Chemistry", according to UNESCO.

Yam, along with the other four female scientists, was named to the 13th Women in Science Awards on November 9 for her contribution in light-emitting materials and innovative ways of capturing solar energy, according to Yam.

Yam and her team had designed and synthesized many new molecular functional materials that have promising optical, charge separation and light-emitting properties during the past decades.

Yam said the research could help lower the manufacturing cost of organic solar sells by finding a cheaper and more efficient molecular structures that possess more flexible substances.

Yam also designed a molecular structure that can more efficiently absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity, which would also be helpful for solar energy development.

For normal bulbs, most of the energy was wasted on generating heat. The new molecular, white organic light-emitting diode, can develop the same amount of light while consuming much less energy.

"Generally, my research is very important to energy saving as well as developing clean energy, so it will have impact on sustainable and environmental development of the society," said Yam.

"I wish my award would encourage young science students to persist on their dreams," said Yam, encouraging young people to be determined in pursuit of what they love, no matter how many failures await.

The award presentation ceremony will be held in March 2011. Each winner will receive a prize amounting to HK$10,000.

China Daily

(HK Edition 11/11/2010 page1)