Professor Akiko Kobayashi is a renowned Japanese chemist who designed and created the first molecular metal in the world that has just a single-component.
Her remarkable feat in chemistry shot her into fame. She had successfully inspired millions of aspiring women scientists.
Early Childhood & Education
Born in Tokyo in 1943, Akiko Kobayashi was the loving daughter of her musician mother and physicist father. From childhood, she developed an interest in science.
With the immense support of her parents get enrolled at the University of Tokyo. In 1967, she successfully graduated with a B.Sc degree from the Department of Chemistry.
She went on to earn a Ph.D. in 1972 from the same university and become a research associate the same year.
However, it took more than two decades to become an associate professor, and then she got appointed as a full professor at the University of Tokyo in 1999.
According to Akiko Kobayashi, “Over the course of my career, one of the major difficulties I’ve encountered has to do with advancing to a new position, and I think this was probably a general problem for women scientists in Japan.”
In 2006, she took retirement from her post and joined the Department of Chemistry at Nihon University in Tokyo.
While working as a full-time professor, Kobayashi designed and created a single-component metal in 2001 that has just one molecule.
The new chemical substance was named Ni(tmdt)2. Here, tmdt stands for trimethylenetetrathiafulvalenedithiolate.
Before her discovery, there is a widespread belief among organic chemists that metals do not exist with a single-component.
However, Kobayashi proved them wrong as Ni(tmdt)2 remains in its metallic state even at low temperatures.
It also exhibits unusual properties such as attraction to magnetic fields at almost every temperature below room temperature.
Although her first invention was nickel-based, she also created some other variations that were based on other metals such as zinc and copper.
Some of the notable awards won by the famous chemist are as follows:
- 1998-Crystallographic Society of Japan Award
- 2006-Complex Chemical Society Award
- 2009- L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science
This remarkable achievement of Akiko Kobayashi altered the concept of molecules forever and paved the way for the development of new metals.
Today, when molecular conductors are vital as building blocks for flat-screen computer monitors and television sets, her advance in the material science field has found lots of applications. She also writes over 400 scientific publications.