A new mineral, kanatzidisite, has been discovered in an abandoned gold mine in Hungary. It was named in honor of Greek scientist Mercouri Kanatzidis, an esteemed inorganic chemist at Northwestern University in Chicago. The mineral, classified as a chalcogenide, was found in the Nagybörzsöny deposit at Alsó-Rózsa, Hungary, during the summer and is now part of the collection at the Museo di Storia Naturale, Università di Firenze, Florence, Italy.
The International Mineralogical Society (IMA) recently announced the naming of the mineral after Kanatzidis to recognize his significant contributions to chalcogenide chemistry. Kanatzidis expressed his deep honor at having a mineral named after him, symbolizing the remarkable diversity and wonders of the Earth’s geological treasures. While kanatzidisite is currently rare, he hopes that larger deposits will be discovered as geologists gain a better understanding of where to look.
Chalcogenides are compounds that contain at least one chalcogen elemental ion and at least one metallic element. They differ from silica glass and are primarily composed of chalcogen element atoms such as sulfur, selenium, or tellurium. Chalcogenides exhibit a range of colors, from partially transparent to completely opaque, depending on their chemical composition.
Kanatzidis’ research has made significant advancements in synthetic metal chalcogenide chemistry and the development of new functional chalcogenide materials. These materials have diverse applications, including solar cells, X-ray and gamma-ray detectors, topological quantum materials, and highly efficient thermoelectric materials.
As the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, Kanatzidis hopes that kanatzidisite will inspire future generations of scientists and explorers to delve deeper into the mysteries of nature and uncover more extraordinary minerals. He humorously remarks that his love for minerals has now led to a “rock-solid” legacy in the field of geology.
Kanatzidis’ research spans various areas, including exploratory synthesis in chalcogenides and multianionic materials, thermoelectric applications, hard radiation detectors, and the discovery of hybrid perovskite materials for solar cells. His contributions have earned him the 2023 Centenary Prize for his pioneering work in the synthesis and development of novel semiconducting halide perovskites for solar energy conversion. Moreover, he has been elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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