Cover image for Vol. 18 Issue 12

Editor: Greta Heydenrych; Editorial Board Chairs: Christian Amatore, Michael Grätzel, Michel Orrit

Impact Factor: 3.075

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2016: 8/35 (Physics Atomic Molecular & Chemical); 54/145 (Chemistry Physical)

Online ISSN: 1439-7641

Associated Title(s): Advanced Materials, ChemBioChem, ChemCatChem, ChemElectroChem, ChemPhotoChem, ChemSusChem, Small

December 15, 2009

ChemPhysChem Board Member Profile: Christoph Bräuchle

ChemPhysChem Board Member Profile: Christoph BräuchleNot long ago, scientists only dreamed of being able to see individual molecules in action. But thanks to rapid advances in imaging, many researchers can now do exactly that –and some of them can even manipulate single molecules using appropriate tools. ChemPhysChem Editorial Advisory Board Member Christoph Bräuchle is one of these lucky scientists. His research focuses on imaging, spectroscopy and manipulation of single molecules in bio- and nanosciences.

"Christoph Bräuchle has made important contributions in a number of areas of single-molecule research", says Professor Raimund Ober of the University of Texas at Dallas (USA), referring particularly to Bräuchle's pioneering work on single-virus tracking in living cells. "This work was not only a major achievement at the time, but also provided important motivation to other research groups, such as ours, by showing that single-molecule microscopy can indeed be used to study very important biological problems".

Bräuchle was born in 1947 in Metzingen, a small city in south-west Germany, and studied chemistry and physics at the Technical University of Berlin and the University of Tübingen. He earned his PhD in physical chemistry in 1978 at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich. After spending one year as a postdoc at IBM in California (USA), he returned to Germany where he continued his research and teaching activities. In 1984, he accepted an associate professorship at LMU Munich, and in 1986 he received an offer for a chair in physical chemistry from the Technical University of Berlin. Two years later, he took up his current position as full Professor for physical chemistry at LMU Munich. Bräuchle joined the Editorial Board of ChemPhysChem in 2000 and has been very active as Board Member, author and referee.

The German scientist has received many awards. Among his recognitions are the Philip Morris Research Award (1993) and the Karl Heinz Beckurts Prize (2002). He is a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (since 2002) and was an invited speaker at the Nobel Symposium 'Single Molecules in Chemistry, Physics and Biology', held in Stockholm (Sweden) last year. Recently, Bräuchle was also elected member of the Academia Europaea, a European Academy of Humanities, Letters and Sciences which hosts around 2000 invited members (among them 38 Nobel Laureates). "It is a huge honor and a great pleasure to be elected full member in such a prestigious institution and to find my name among those of many outstanding colleagues whom I admire for their work", he says, delighted.

Bräuchle has made important contributions to many fields. He has 'seen' individual viruses, investigated the force and optical properties of single biomolecules, studied the dynamics of single molecules in nanoporous systems, and worked on the development of new drug delivery systems. "The practical implications of his research that we are most familiar with relate to their applications in biomedical research", says Ober. "The work on single-virus tracking opened up new avenues for the investigation of the interaction of viruses with cells", he adds. The approach allows researchers to follow the fate of individual virus particles, thereby revealing previously unobservable infection steps. In addition to this, Bräuchle and his team also carried out groundbreaking studies of the diffusion of single molecules within nanoporous materials. Tracking individual molecules in such systems provides insights into both the heterogeneity and mechanistic details of molecular diffusion and the structure of the host. Jörg Kärger, a Professor of physics at the University of Leipzig (Germany) who studies molecular diffusion in nanoporous and confined systems, discusses the importance of this work: "Christoph Bräuchle succeeded in following the diffusion paths of probe molecules in mesoporous solids and established, in this way, a fascinating novel route to exploring the real structure of a family of materials which is currently in the focus of both fundamental and applied research", he says.

The results of Bräuchle's work have been compiled in more than 290 peer-reviewed publications. But the researcher is sure that he had not been able to achieve all this without close collaborations with other groups. The secret of his success is interdisciplinary thinking. "Many of my scientific achievements over the years result from communicating with colleagues in new areas and the fascination of 'learning the language' of such fields and combining it with my own knowledge", he says.

Read Bräuchle's most recent ChemPhysChem papers on real-time nanomicroscopy via 3D single-particle tracking, the photophysics and biological applications of new terrylenediimide derivatives, and the origin of material failure in siloxane elastomers.

Kira Welter

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