Prof. Dr. Richard R. Ernst

Prof. Dr. Richard R. Ernst
Prof. Dr. Richard R. Ernst, professor emeritus since 1998

The private homepage of Richard R. Ernst is found at external

Richard R. Ernst was full Professor of Physical Chemistry since 1976. He directed a research group devoted to magnetic resonance spectroscopy, was for some time director of the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry at the ETH Zurich and retired in 1998.

He was born as a citizen 1933 in Winterthur. He finished 1962 his studies at the ETH Zurich with a dissertation on nuclear magnetic resonance in the discipline of physical chemistry. 1963 he joined Varian Associates as a scientist and developed Fourier-transform NMR, noise decoupling, and several other techniques. 1968 he returned to ETH Zurich, became 1968 Lecturer, 1970 Assistant Professor, 1972 Associate Professor, 1976 Full Professor, and retired 1998. Since 1968, he was head of a research group focused on methodological developments in liquid state and solid state NMR. He developed two-dimensional NMR and many novel pulse techniques. He contributed to the development of medical magnetic resonance tomography, and in collaboration with Professor Kurt Wüthrich to the development of the NMR structure determination of biopolymers in solution. Later, he was involved in the study of intra-molecular dynamics.

In his retirement, he gave lectures world-wide on magnetic resonance spectroscopy, on Fourier transform methods, on the historical development of spectroscopy, on Central Asian painting art, and on pigment analysis in paintings by Raman spectroscopy. He considered the societal responsibilities of researchers and academic teachers particularly relevant. They were for him the educators of future leaders in society, industry, and politics, who can have a decisive influence on a beneficial future global development.

In addition, he was engaged in numerous further activities. He was president of the Research Council of ETH Zurich and he was, among other duties, a member of the Swiss Science Council, of the COST Committee, of the Foundation Marcel Benoist, of the Hochschulrat of the Technische Universität Munich, and Vicepresident of the Board of Bruker AG, Fällanden.  

He received numerous honors, including the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1991), the Wolf Prize for Chemistry (1991), the Horwitz Prize (1991), and the Marcel Benoist Prize (1986). He received more than a dozen honorary doctors degrees, among them degrees from ETH Lausanne, Technische Universität Munich, Universität Zurich, University Bern, University Antwerpen, Babes-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca, Charles University Prague, and University Montpellier. He was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, London, of the Deutsche Akademie Leopoldina, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology, and honorary member of many further societies.

Richard R. Ernst died on June 4, 2021. Obituary

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