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Martyn Poliakoff

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Doctoral advisor
J. J. Turner


Martyn Poliakoff

Janet Frances Keene

Stephen Poliakoff

Martyn Poliakoff ProfessorSirMartynPoliakoffYouTubePeriodicVideosjpg

16 December 1947 (age 76) (

University of NottinghamUniversity of Cambridge

Alma mater
The matrix isolation of large molecules. The photochemistry of transition metal carbonyls (1973)

Notable awards
FRS (2002)OBE (2008)Knight Bachelor (2015)CChemFRSCFIChemE

Simon Poliakoff, Ellen Poliakoff

Ina Poliakoff, Alexander Poliakoff

University of Cambridge, King's College, Cambridge

Doctoral students

Meet martyn poliakoff

Sir Martyn Poliakoff CBE CChem FRS FRSC FIChemE (born 16 December 1947) is a British chemist, working on gaining insights into fundamental chemistry, and on developing environmentally acceptable processes and materials. The core themes of his work are supercritical fluids, infrared spectroscopy and lasers. He is a research professor in chemistry at the University of Nottingham. 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. He is also known for his leading role in The Periodic Table of Videos.


Martyn Poliakoff Professor Martyn Poliakoff Flickr Photo Sharing

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Early life

Martyn Poliakoff BBC News Chemistry is catalyst for Nottingham YouTube

Poliakoff was born to an English mother, Ina (née Montagu), and Russian-speaking father, Alexander Poliakoff, both Jewish. His brother is the screenwriter and director, Stephen Poliakoff.

Martyn Poliakoff httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Poliakoff's paternal grandfather, Joseph, was a Russian Jew who experienced first-hand the effects of the communist revolution in Russia from the family's Moscow flat across from the Kremlin. Near starvation after the revolution, he was given a government job as a district telephone inspector from an admiring commissar and he helped build Moscow's first automatic telephone exchange. He then fled with his family from the newly Stalinist Soviet Union to the UK in 1924 Poliakoff was a renowned inventor of electrical devices whose many inventions included a selenium photograph telephony shutter in 1899 (US patent 700,100, 26 August 1901), which, along with electrical sound amplification, allowed for synchronized audio on film, the radio volume control, a magnetic induction loop that allowed hearing-impaired people to hear in auditoriums or theatres, and the paging beeper. He also founded the Multitone Electric Company of London, England in 1931 that produced hearing aid devices with their most prestigious client being Winston Churchill.


Poliakoff was educated at Westminster School followed by King's College, Cambridge graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1969, and a PhD in 1973, for research supervised by J. J. Turner. While an undergraduate at Cambridge, Poliakoff met and became close friends with Tony Judt, who later became a widely-known historian and writer.

Career and research

In 1972, Poliakoff moved to Newcastle University and in 1979 was appointed a lecturer at the University of Nottingham, where he was subsequently promoted to professor in 1991. His research has been funded by the EPSRC.

Poliakoff is a global leader in the field of green chemistry with a specific interest in the applications of supercritical fluids. These highly compressed gases possess properties of gases and liquids that permit interesting chemical reactions without the need for organic solvents, which endanger both health and the environment. His contributions have enabled the development of supercritical carbon dioxide and water solvent systems to replace traditional organic solvents at the industrial scale. Away from the lab, as foreign secretary and vice-president of the Royal Society, he works to represent and further the impact of UK science around the world.

Poliakoff is the narrator in most of a series of over 500 short videos called The Periodic Table of Videos, 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. Poliakoff showed some videos at IUPAC's elements inauguration in the Central Club of Scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

Honours and awards

Poliakoff was awarded the Meldola Medal and Prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1976. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2002, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) also in 2002, and Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (FIChemE) in 2004. He served on the IChemE Council between 2009 and 2013. 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 since 2008. In 2008, he was elected an Honorary Member of the Chemical Society of Ethiopia and a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2011. He took up the positions of Foreign Secretary and Vice-president of the Royal Society in November 2011, positions which are held for a fixed five-year period. In 2011, he won the Nyholm Prize for Education.

Poliakoff also received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2011.

In 2012, Poliakoff was elected a Fellow of the Academia Europaea and in 2013, an Associate Fellow of TWAS, the World Academy of Science. He was elected an Associate Fellow of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences in 2014. Poliakoff was knighted in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to the chemical sciences. Poliakoff was awarded the Lord Lewis Prize in 2016 for his work concerning the applications of supercritical fluids, and for his work in the development of science policy within the EU and globally.

Personal life

Poliakoff has a daughter, Ellen Poliakoff, a psychology lecturer at the University of Manchester; and a son, Simon Poliakoff, head of physics at Dame Alice Owen's School. Martyn Poliakoff was a lifelong friend of Tony Judt and produced a web eulogy of Judt in 2010.


Martyn Poliakoff Wikipedia

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