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Nobel Prize

Gerhard Ertl

Chemistry 2007

Gerhard Ertl, born in 1936, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces”. Prior to his retirement in 2004, Ertl was Director of the Department of Physical Chemistry at the Max Planck Society’s Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin. From 1973 until 1986 he served as Professor of Physical Chemistry at LMU. Important elements of the work that would win him the Nobel Prize were carried out during this period, including his elucidation of the catalytic mechanism of the Haber-Bosch process for the synthesis of ammonia.

Theodor W. Hänsch

Physics 2005

Theodor W. Hänsch (b. 1941) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences honored his contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy with the help of which the optical frequency of atoms and molecules can be measured with extreme precision. Hänsch holds the chair for experimental physics at LMU and is director of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Munich.

Gerd Binnig

Physics 1986

Gerd Binnig (b. 1942) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 together with Heinrich Rohrer (both at the IBM research laboratory in Zurich at that time) for developing the scanning tunneling microscope. Gerd Binnig has been honorary professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität since 1986.

Karl Ritter von Frisch

Medicine 1973

Karl Ritter von Frisch (1886–1982) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen (1907–1988) “for their discoveries on the organization and triggering of individual and social behavioral patterns.” In 1910, he joined the Zoological Institute at LMU. Following interim periods in Rostock and Breslau, he became professor at LMU in 1925. He retired in 1958 but still continued to carry out research.

Feodor Lynen

Medicine 1964

Feodor Lynen (1911–1979) received the Nobel Prize in Medicine together with Konrad Bloch (1912–2000) for their discoveries concerning the mechanism and regulation of cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism. Lynen remained faithful to LMU where he was professor ordinarius from 1953 until his retirement in 1979, even turning down a call from Harvard University.

Adolf Butenandt

Chemistry 1939

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1939 went to Adolf Butenandt (1903–1995) for his research in the field of sex hormones. He shared the prize with Leopold Ružička, a researcher at ETH Zurich. Butenandt was called to the Institute of Pysiologic Medicine at LMU in 1952. From 1955 until he took up office as president of the Max Planck Society in 1960, Butenandt was simultaneously chief executive of the Institute of Physiologic Chemistry at LMU and director of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry.

Werner Heisenberg

Physics 1932

Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976) studied at LMU on a scholarship to the Maximilianeum Foundation under Arnold Sommerfeld, who acted as his mentor. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics at the early age of 31, “for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen,” as stated in the speech given in his honor. Heisenberg formulated the uncertainty principle named after him.

Heinrich Wieland

Chemistry 1927

Heinrich Wieland (1877–1957) received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1927 for his research into the composition of bile acids and related substances. As his research was classified as being of strategic importance, several attempts to denunciate him during the National Socialist dictatorship came to no avail; he even managed to take on a number scholars burdened by the anti-Semitic “Nuremberg Laws” as guests in his work group, thus protecting them from persecution by the Nazis.

Richard Willstätter

Chemistry 1915

The chemist Richard Willstätter (1872–1942) received the Nobel Prize virtually at the same time as he decided to accept a position at LMU. The prize was in recognition of his study of plant pigments, especially of chlorophyll, the pigment essential for photosynthesis in plants. Willstätter resigned his position as professor ordinarius in 1925, as he believed that anti-Semitism had gained the upper hand in the appointments procedure. Although he continued his research work in Munich, he left the city in 1939 for Switzerland.

Max von Laue

Physics 1914

Max von Laue (1879–1960) was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1914, in physics. During his time at the University of Frankfurt am Main, the scientist discovered the diffraction of x-rays by crystals. This enabled him to prove both the wavelength of these rays as well as the structure of the crystals. Laue came to LMU in 1909 initially as a “Privatdozent,” and held lectures on optics, thermodynamics, and the theory of relativity. In 1912, he took up a position at the University of Zurich; in 1914 in Frankfurt am Main.

Wilhelm Wien

Physics 1911

The Nobel Prize in Physics in 1911 went to the physicist Wilhelm Wien (1864–1928) in recognition of his research into the laws of thermal radiation. Wien was awarded the Nobel Prize while at the University of Würzburg. In 1920 he moved to Munich to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, where—as in Würzburg—he took over as Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen’s successor. Wilhelm Wien was rector of LMU from 1925 to 1926.

Adolf von Baeyer

Chemistry 1905

The chemist Adolf von Baeyer (1835–1917) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1905, primarily for the synthesis of indigo and dyes made using triphenylmethane. After the death of Justus von Liebig he was called to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, and established a highly regarded chemistry laboratory where he worked until his retirement.

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen

Physics 1901

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845–1923) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. Röntgen received the award primarily for his research into x-rays discovered by and named after him. He made this discovery in 1895, while working at the University of Würzburg. Between 1900 and 1920, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. He retired in 1920.