85th anniversary of Prof. Ertl

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Ertl is celebrating his 85th anniversary on October 10. He has also just published an autobiography "Mein Leben für die Wissenschaft", GNT-Verlag Berlin.

October 07, 2021

The physicist and surface chemist was director of the Physical Chemistry Department of the FHI in Berlin from 1986 to 2004 and was honorary professor at all three Berlin universities (Humboldt, FU, TU). In 2007, he received the Nobel Prize for his services to surface chemistry. Today, the honoree lives in a retirement home near the Dahlem campus.

"His pioneering basic research in the field of surface structures and reactions help us today in understanding the catalytic mechanisms in the development of sustainable hydrogen energy," said Institute Director Prof. Dr. Gerard Meijer, acknowledging Prof. Dr. Ertl's achievements.

In 1955, the native Swabian began his physics studies at the University of Stuttgart. In 1961, he received his physics diploma; his thesis, entitled "A Temperature Jump Method for Investigating Rapid Dissociation Reactions Using a Microwave Pulse," was supervised by Heinz Gerischer, who was then working at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart. In 1962, Gerhard Ertl went to Munich with Heinz Gerischer, who had accepted a professorship at the Technical University there, and worked with him until 1965 in the field of physical chemistry on his dissertation "On the kinetics of the catalytic oxidation of hydrogen on germanium single crystals". Gerhard Ertl then habilitated with the "Investigation of surface structures and reactions by means of diffraction of slow electrons" in only two years. He received a chair at the Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry in Hannover in the same year. In 1973, he became a professor at the Institute of Physical Chemistry at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. In the following years, he held several visiting professorships in the USA.

Prof. Ertl has received many other prizes besides the Nobel Prize, including, for example, the Japan Prize in 1992, meeting the Emperor Akihito. From 1995 to 2001 he was Vice President of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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