Prof. Dieter Richter of the Jülich Centre for Neutron Science and the Institute of Complex Systems has been awarded the Staudinger-Durrer Prize for his work in the area of soft matter. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) seeks to honour researchers who have made outstanding contributions to materials science research with this award.
Richter has significantly contributed to the understanding of the dynamics of polymers and biological macromolecules with the aid of high-resolution neutron scattering methods. These findings have implications for the processing of plastics, for example, and have also been of great benefit in the development of new types of diesel fuels more suitable for winter temperatures, and environmentally friendlier solvents. In the field of biomedical research, his work has opened up new opportunities for a more precise understanding of the functionality of protein molecules.
By conferring the award, the ETH Zurich also recognises Richter’s efforts in bringing European research groups in the area of soft matter together. He was, among other things, one of the founders of the international series of conferences “International Soft Matter Days” as well as the European network of excellence “SoftComp”, where he took on the role of Chairman and Coordinator for the first seven years. Last but not least, the ETH bestowed the prize to thank Richter for his commitment as member of the research committee of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland, with which the ETH Zurich is closely affiliated.
The award ceremony, including the presentation of the Staudinger-Durrer medal as well as an invitation to give an honorary lecture, took place yesterday as part of the Materials Day events at the ETH Department of Materials Science. The prize is named after two distinguished scientists, whose research into material properties was of particular importance at the ETH Zurich. Hermann Staudinger was professor at the ETH Zurich from 1912 – 1926; he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1953. Robert Durrer was professor in Metallurgy from 1943-1961, and laid the cornerstone for an important technique used in steel production.