Omar M. Yaghi (Arabic: عمر مونّس ياغي, born February 9, 1965) is a Jordanian-American chemist, currently the James and Neeltje Tretter Chair Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recognizable work is in the design and production of new classes of compounds known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs), and covalent organic frameworks (COFs). MOFs are noted for their extremely high surface areas (5640 m2/g for MOF-177) and very low crystalline densities (0.17 g·cm−3 for COF-108). He has successfully developed these materials from basic science to applications in clean energy technologies including hydrogen and methane storage, and carbon dioxide capture and storage.
Yaghi was born in Amman, Jordan in 1965. At the age of 15, he moved to the United States at the encouragement of his father. Although he knew little English, he began classes at Hudson Valley Community College. He later transferred to the University at Albany, SUNY to finish his degree. He began his graduate studies at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign at the age of 20 and received his PhD in 1990 under the guidance of Prof. Walter G. Klemperer. He was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University (1990–1992) with Professor Richard H. Holm. He was on the faculties of Arizona State University (1992–1998), the University of Michigan (1999–2006), and the University of California, Los Angeles (2007-2012).
In 2012, he moved to the University of California, Berkeley where he is now the James and Neeltje Tretter Professor of Chemistry. He is the Founding Director of the Berkeley Global Science Institute. He is also a Co-Director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute of the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as well as the California Research Alliance by BASF. His early accomplishments in the design and synthesis of new materials have been honored by the Solid State Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society and Exxon Co. (1998) and the Sacconi Medal of the Italian Chemical Society (1999). His work on hydrogen storage was recognized by Popular Science which listed him among the 'Brilliant 10' scientists and engineers in the United States in 2006, and the US Department of Energy Hydrogen Program Award for outstanding contributions to hydrogen storage (2007). He was the sole recipient of the Materials Research Society Medal for pioneering work in the theory, design, synthesis and applications of metal-organic frameworks and received the Newcomb Cleveland Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the best paper published in Science (2007). He is the recipient of the American Chemical Society Chemistry of Materials Award (2009). He is the second most cited chemist in the world (2000–2010). In 2015 he was awarded both the King Faisal International Prize in Chemistry and the Mustafa Prize in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.