Richard R. Ernst life and biography

Richard R. Ernst picture, image, poster

Richard R. Ernst biography

Date of birth : 1933-08-14
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Winterthur, Switzerland
Nationality : Swiss
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-23
Credited as : chemist, NMR, MRI, Nobel prize for chemistry

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Swiss chemist Richard R. Ernst discovered a relative's abandoned chemistry set when he was a boy, and conducted experiments in his home laboratory through his high school years, with occasional accidents and explosions. He earned his doctorate and spent the bulk of his career at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, and is known for making improvements to the technology and sensitivity of nuclear spectroscopy, pertinent to both nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Ernst showed that under some circumstances, atomic nuclei can be forced out of their ordinary alignment when subjected to certain radio frequencies in short, intense pulses. His work, conducted while employed at Varian Associates in the 1960s, allowed far more detailed and precise analysis of molecular structures, and earned Ernst the 1991 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

He studied and served as faculty at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, from which he is now retired. He is Honorary Doctor of the Technical University of Munich and University of Zurich.

He is member of the World Knowledge Dialogue Scientific Board.

Ernst received both his diploma in chemistry (1957) and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry (1962) from ETH Zürich. From 1963 to 1968 he worked as a research chemist in Palo Alto, Calif. In 1966, working with an American colleague, Ernst discovered that the sensitivity of NMR techniques (hitherto limited to analysis of only a few nuclei) could be dramatically increased by replacing the slow, sweeping radio waves traditionally used in NMR spectroscopy with short, intense pulses. His discovery enabled analysis of a great many more types of nuclei and smaller amounts of materials.

Awards and honors:

Varian Research chemist (1963-68)
Leopold Ruzicka Prize 1969
SMRM Gold Medal 1983
Marcel Benoist Award 1986
ACS John Gamble Kirkwood Medal 1989
AMPERE Prize 1990
Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize 1991
Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1991
Wolf Prize in Chemistry 1991 (with Alexander Pines)
SSR H. R. Schinz Medal 1995
Applied Magnetic Resonance Editorial Board (1989-)
Chemical Physics Letters Editorial Board (1985-2005)
Journal of Biomolecular NMR Editorial Board (1991-)
Journal of Magnetic Resonance Editorial Board (1974-)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Editorial Board (1982-)
Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Editorial Board (1984-)
Molecular Physics Editorial Board (1983-2003)
Solid State Magnetic Resonance Editorial Board (1991-)
Academia Europaea 1988
American Academy of Arts and Sciences Foreign Member, 1996
American Physical Society Foreign Member, 1962
American Society of Neuroradiology Foreign Member, 1994
Atomes et Molécules Par Études Radio-Électriques
Bangladesh Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 2005
German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina Foreign Member, 1988
Indian National Science Academy Foreign Member, 1990
Institute of Medicine 2003
International Council on Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems 1974
International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 1984
Islamic Academy of Sciences 2006
Korean Academy of Science and Technology Foreign Member, 1995
National Academy of Sciences Foreign Associate, 1991
Russian Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1999
Royal Society Foreign Member, 1993
Swiss Chemical Society 1985
Swiss Research Council Board of Directors, 1998-

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