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Hans Fischer Prize for Willi Auwärter

2015-11-09 – Nachrichten aus dem Physik-Department

Professor Willi Auwärter has been awarded the Hans Fischer memorial prize for his excellent research on “nano chemistry of porphyrins at surfaces”. Willi Auwärter and his research group at the Physik-Department of Technische Universität München study properties of biological molecules and such inspired by biological function.

Prof. Willi Auwärter (to the right) receives the Hans Fischer memorial prize
Prof. Willi Auwärter (to the right) receives the Hans Fischer memorial prize from Prof. Wolfgang Eisenreich, chair of the Hans Fischer Society. Photo: Dr. Andreas Battenberg / TUM

Porphyrins are important biological building blocks for nature. Chlorophyll, the green photosynthetic pigment, and Heme, the red blood pigment, are just two examples of this class of chemical compounds.

Willi Auwärter explains: “Porphyrins and other tetrapyrrole macromolecules possess an impressive variety of functional properties that have been exploited in natural and artificial systems. Different metal centers incorporated within the tetradentate ligand are key for achieving and regulating vital processes, including reversible axial ligation of adducts, electron transfer, light-harvesting and catalytic transformations.”

This variety in nature inspires Willi Auwärter’s fundamental research on the properties of these molecules – always with an eye on possible applications. Single molecules are imaged with scanning probe microscopy with atomic resolution. The goal is not just information about the chemical structure, but also about the arrangement of molecules, interactions with gas molecules or chemical reactions of single molecules at the surface. At his research group at TUM among other projects nano sized molecular switches have been realized as well as ordered chains of porphin molecules, which might be used for data storage.

The Hans Fischer prize is named after the Nobel laureate who was active at TUM and amounts to 5000 Euro. It is awarded for excellent research in chemistry and biochemistry. Willi Auwärter is the first laureate from physics. His research is focused on the same class of compounds, that won Hans Fischer the Nobel prize in 1930 after he first managed to synthesize them – a field of research with a long tradition at TUM that still yields excellent research.

Willi Auwärter’s exceptional achievements have already won him a TUM-IAS Carl-von-Linde Junior-Fellowship as well as an European ERC Consolidator Grant.

Dr. Johannes Wiedersich


Prof. Dr. Willi Auwärter
Molekulare Nanowissenschaft an Grenzflächen
Technische Universität München
Am Coulombwall 2
85748 Garching
Tel.: +49 89 289-12399
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