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October 16, 2009
Helmuth Möhwald Receives Wolfgang Ostwald Prize 2009
Professor Helmuth Möhwald, director of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, has received the Wolfgang Ostwald Prize 2009 for a lifetime of scientific achievements. With this prize, the German Colloid Society honors outstanding scientific research in the field of pure or applied colloid science. The award is named after the prominent German chemist Wolfgang Ostwald, who is considered one of the founders of colloid chemistry. "The Ostwald prize honors leading researchers who have directed the field of colloid and interface science", says Hans-Jürgen Butt, Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz and President of the German Colloid Society. He points out that the researchers honored with the prize have identified important fundamental scientific questions and contributed significantly to answering them. "They have also applied the knowledge to produce something new and useful", Butt says.
Möhwald received the prize in September during the 44th general meeting of the German Colloid Society in Hamburg. "Professor Möhwald has been a leader in the field of colloid science for decades", says Paul Alivisatos, Larry and Diane Bock Professor of Nanotechnology at the University of California, Berkeley, who is an expert in the field of colloidal nanocrystals and was invited to give a plenary lecture at that meeting. "His early work on compartmentalized vesicles and layer-by-layer assembly of membranes stands out particularly. He is very deserving of the recognition of the Ostwald prize, the highest honor of the German Colloid Society", Alivisatos says. Hans-Jürgen Butt agrees: "In the eighties and nineties Helmuth Möhwald was one of the driving scientists –I even tend to say the driving scientist– in studies of organic monolayers on water surfaces." According to Butt, during the last decade Möhwald's research has focussed on self-assembled polyelectrolyte layers. "Today we do not only better understand the formation of polyelectrolyte multilayers, but we can also use this knowledge to make microcapsules", Butt says.
"I very much appreciate this high award from the prestigious German Colloid Society", says Möhwald who is pleased to have received this important recognition. "It demonstrates that one can be a prophet in his own country", he adds with humour. The German scientist has authored or co-authored more than 700 peer-reviewed publications and has been cited over 24000 times. His current research interests include self-repairing coatings, remote-controlled drug release, and sonochemistry -a field of chemistry that deals with the effects of sonic waves on chemical systems. Möhwald earned his Diploma in physics in 1971 at the University of Göttingen and his PhD in physics in 1974 at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. He has been the director of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces since 1993 and has received many awards including the Overbeek Medal of the European Colloid and Interface Society (2007), the Prix-Gay-Lussac of the French Ministry of Research and Technology (in collaboration with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation), and the Lectureship Award of the Japanese Colloid Society (2002).
Möhwald is also an active author and referee for ChemPhysChem and Angewandte Chemie. Read his publications on temperature-sensitive capsules (ChemPhysChem), the adsorption of a peptide at polymer surfaces (ChemPhysChem), the sonochemical synthesis of highly luminescent nanoparticles (Angewandte Chemie), and the self-assembly of water-repellent materials from fullerene derivatives (Angewandte Chemie).