Martyn Poliakoff

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Martyn Poliakoff
Poliakoff during the filming of his online video series
Born (1947-12-16) 16 December 1947 (age 67)[1]
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Spouse(s) Dr. Janet Frances Keene[1]
Awards Fellow of the Royal Society (2002)
Order of the British Empire (2008)
Knight Bachelor (2015)
Scientific career
Thesis The matrix isolation of large molecules. The photochemistry of transition metal carbonyls (1973)
Doctoral advisor J. J. Turner[2]
from the BBC programme Material World, 28 August 2008[3]


Sir Martyn Poliakoff CBE FRS (born 16 December 1947)[1] is a British chemist, working on gaining insights into fundamental chemistry and also on developing environmentally acceptable processes and materials. The core themes of his work are supercritical fluids,[4][5] infrared spectroscopy and lasers. He is a Research Professor in Chemistry at the University of Nottingham.[2] His group comprises several members of staff, postdoctoral research fellows, postgraduate students and overseas visitors. As well as carrying out research at the University of Nottingham he is a popular lecturer, teaching a number of modules including green chemistry[6][7] where much of his research lies.[8] He is also known for his participation in The Periodic Table of Videos.


Poliakoff was educated at Westminster School[1] followed by King's College, Cambridge graduating with a B.A. degree in 1969 and Ph.D. degree in 1973[9] under the supervision of J. J. Turner.[2][10] While an undergraduate at Cambridge, Poliakoff met and become close friends with Tony Judt, who later became a widely known historian and writer.[11]


In 1972, Poliakoff moved to the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and in 1979, took a Lectureship at the University of Nottingham,[2] becoming a Professor in 1991.[1]

Popular science[edit]

Poliakoff is the narrator in most of a series of over 500 short videos called The Periodic Table of Videos,[12][13] which is a popular science project, produced by Brady Haran, originally intended to familiarize the public with all 118 elements of the periodic table. The project has since expanded to cover molecules; there are also several special videos about other chemical topics. He hit the news for calculating that the FIFA World Cup Trophy could not have been made from solid gold as it would be too heavy to raise aloft.[14][15][16]

Honours and awards[edit]

Poliakoff was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours and is a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering.[17] He took up the position of Foreign Secretary[18] and Vice-president of the Royal Society in November 2011.[19]

He was knighted in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to the chemical sciences.[20][21]

Personal life[edit]

Poliakoff was born to an English mother, Ina (née Montagu), and a Russian father, Alexander Poliakoff, both Jewish.[26] Poliakoff has a daughter, Ellen Poliakoff, a psychology lecturer at the University of Manchester;[27] and a son, Simon Poliakoff, a physics teacher). His brother is the screenwriter and director, Stephen Poliakoff. Martyn Poliakoff was a lifelong friend of Tony Judt and produced a web eulogy of Judt in 2010.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e "‘POLIAKOFF, Prof. Martyn’, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012". (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d Martyn Poliakoff's biography at the University of Nottingham
  3. ^ "Tracking Traffic - Periodic Table of Videos". Material World. 28 August 2008. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  4. ^ Parrott, A. J.; Bourne, R. A.; Akien, G. R.; Irvine, D. J.; Poliakoff, M. (2011). "Self-Optimizing Continuous Reactions in Supercritical Carbon Dioxide". Angewandte Chemie International Edition 50 (16): 3788–3792. doi:10.1002/anie.201100412. PMID 21442710.  edit
  5. ^ Bourne, R. A.; Han, X.; Chapman, A. O.; Arrowsmith, N. J.; Kawanami, H.; Poliakoff, M.; George, M. W. (2008). "Homogeneous photochemical oxidation via singlet O2 in supercritical CO2". Chemical Communications (37): 4457–4459. doi:10.1039/b806063k. PMID 18802589.  edit
  6. ^ Poliakoff, M.; Licence, P. (2007). "Sustainable technology: Green chemistry". Nature 450 (7171): 810–812. doi:10.1038/450810a. PMID 18064000.  edit
  7. ^ Asfaw, N.; Chebude, Y.; Ejigu, A.; Hurisso, B. B.; Licence, P.; Smith, R. L.; Tang, S. L. Y.; Poliakoff, M. (2011). "The 13 Principles of Green Chemistry and Engineering for a Greener Africa". Green Chemistry 13 (5): 1059. doi:10.1039/c0gc00936a.  edit
  8. ^ List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
  9. ^ Poliakoff, Martyn (1973). The matrix isolation of large molecules. The photochemistry of transition metal carbonyls (DPhil thesis). University of Cambridge. 
  10. ^ Poliakoff, M.; Turner, J. J. (1970). "The infrared spectra of trimetal carbonyl species in frozen gas matrices at 20°K". Journal of the Chemical Society D: Chemical Communications (16): 1008. doi:10.1039/C29700001008.  edit
  11. ^ Toast to Tony, Periodic Table of Videos, accessed 22 January 2015.
  12. ^ Haran, B.; Poliakoff, M. (2011). "How to measure the impact of chemistry on the small screen". Nature Chemistry 3 (3): 180–182. doi:10.1038/nchem.990. ISSN 1755-4330. OCLC 4795274937. PMID 21336314.  edit
  13. ^ Haran, B.; Poliakoff, M. (2011). "The Periodic Table of Videos". Science 332 (6033): 1046–1047. doi:10.1126/science.1196980. ISSN 0036-8075. OCLC 4898209818. PMID 21617067.  edit
  14. ^ Chemistry of the World Cup trophy on YouTube
  15. ^ "Professor says World Cup trophy cannot be solid gold". BBC News. 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  16. ^ "Doubts raised over World Cup trophy". Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  17. ^ a b "Advisory Council of the Campaign for Science and Engineering". Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  18. ^ Poliakoff, Martyn. "The Royal Society, the Foreign Secretary, and International Relations". Science & Diplomacy. 
  19. ^ The Royal Society – profile
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61092. p. N2. 31 December 2014.
  21. ^ 2015 New Year Honours List
  22. ^ Turner, James J.; Poliakoff, Martyn (1997-07-24). "Obituary : Professor Jeremy Burdett". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  23. ^ "The Royal Society Fellows". The Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  24. ^ "Nyholm Prize for Education 2011 Winner". Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  25. ^ "New Year Honours: YouTube sensation Professor Martyn Poliakoff to be knighted for making chemistry fun to learn". Notthingham Post. Retrieved 2014-12-30. 
  26. ^ "Stephen Poliakoff Biography (1952?–)". Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  27. ^ Dr. Ellen Poliakoff, University of Manchester
  28. ^ Tony Judt Tribute

External links[edit]