(Born 2 May 1939): Japanese physicist and inventor often credited with the invention of carbon nanotubes. Although they had been previously observed, his 1991 Nature paper (now cited over 36680 times, according to SCOPUS) generated sustained interest in nanostructured carbon, leading to intense scientific and technological interest in such systems. He was awarded the Benjamin Franklin medal in Physics in 2002 for his “discovery and elucidation of the atomic structure and helical character of multi-wall and single-wall carbon nanotubes, which have had an enormous impact on the rapidly growing condensed matter and materials science field of nanoscale science and electronics” (see Franklin Medals to Be Awarded: Physics Today: Vol 55, No 4 (scitation.org), The pioneer who discovered carbon nanotubes: 100 Innovators Series | NEC and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumio_Iijima).
(Born 11 May 1944): German physical chemist who, in partnership with Brian O’Regan, coinvented the Grätzel Cell (dye-sensitised titania-based photovoltaics) based on their research in energy and electron-transfer reactions in mesoscopic systems. The seminal 1991 Nature paper outlining their discovery has since been cited over 24000 times and has generated intense international research and commercialisation activities around such photovoltaic systems (see Prof. Michael Graetzel ‒ LPI EPFL, Michael Graetzel Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications – Justia Patents Search, A Plenary Presentation by Prof Michael Grätzel – Materials Today Innovation Award Winner and https://www.bornglorious.com/person/?pi=117008).
Irving Wightman Colburn
(Born 16 May 1861): American inventor whose development of a process for manufacturing continuous sheets of flat glass made the industrial-scale production of window glass possible. The company that he formed in 1906 to exploit his invention, the Colburn Machine Glass Co., went bankrupt in 1911 before his technology was perfected. However, his patents were purchased by the Toledo Glass Company in 1912 and he was subsequently hired by them to further develop his ideas. The first sheet glass was subsequently drawn by them in November 1913 (see This Day in Patent History – Irving W Colburn’s patented sheet glass drawing machine, https://todayinsci.com/C/Colburn_Irving/ColburnIrving-Machine.htm and Syrup Off the Roller: The Libbey-Owens-Ford Company).
more of the Sol-Gel (and Materials Chemistry) History you can find here