Richard R. Ernst

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Richard Ernst
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Richard R. Ernst in 2009
Richard Robert Ernst

(1933-08-14) 14 August 1933 (age 86)
Alma mater ETH Zurich (PhD)
Known for Ernst angle
Fourier transform NMR spectroscopy
2D NMR spectroscopy/Nuclear Overhauser effect spectroscopy/Exclusive correlation spectroscopy
3D NMR spectroscopy
Scientific career
Thesis Kernresonanz-Spektroskopie mit stochastischen Hochfrequenzfeldern  (1962)

Richard Robert Ernst (born 14 August 1933) is a Swiss physical chemist and Nobel Laureate. [2]


Ernst was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1991 for his contributions towards the development of Fourier transform Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy [3] while at Varian Associates, Palo Alto and the subsequent development of multi-dimensional NMR techniques. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] These underpin applications to both to chemistry with NMR spectroscopy and to medicine with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). [1]

Early life and education

Richard R. Ernst was born in 1933 in Winterthur, Switzerland. He received both his diploma in chemistry in 1957 and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1962 [9] from ETH Zurich. [10] His dissertation was on nuclear magnetic resonance in the field of physical chemistry.


Ernst entered Varian Associates as a scientist in 1963 and invented Fourier transform NMR, noise decoupling, and a number of other methods. He returned to ETH Zurich in 1968 and became a lecturer. His career developed to Assistant Professor in 1970, Associate Professor in 1972. Since 1976, Richard R. Ernst was Full Professor of Physical Chemistry. [11]

He led a research group dedicated to magnetic resonance spectroscopy, was the director of the Physical Chemistry Laboratory at the ETH Zurich. He developed two-dimensional NMR and several novel pulse techniques. He retired in 1998. He participated in the development of medical magnetic resonance tomography, as well as the NMR structure determination of biopolymers in solution collaborating with Professor Kurt Wüthrich. He also participated in the study of intra-molecular dynamics. [11]

Awards and honours

Richard R. Ernst, UNESCO 2011

Ernst is a foreign fellow of the Estonian Academy of Sciences (elected 2002) [12] , the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Academy of Sciences, London, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Korean Academy of Science and Technology and Bangladesh Academy of Sciences. [13] [14] [15] He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1993. [1] He was awarded the John Gamble Kirkwood Medal in 1989. [16]

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1991 was awarded to Richard R. Ernst "for his contributions to the development of the methodology of high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy" [17] A strong proponent of Ernst's nomination was the long-time Danish colleague and member of the Nobel Committee Professor Børge Bak.

He holds Honorary Doctorates from the Technical University of Munich, ETH Lausanne, University of Zurich, University Antwerpen, Babes-Bolyai University, and University Montpellier. [14]

Ernst is member of the World Knowledge Dialogue Scientific Board. Ernst was awarded the Marcel Benoist Prize in 1986, the Wolf Prize for Chemistry in 1991 and Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize of Columbia University in 1991. [14] [18] He was also awarded the Tadeus Reichstein Medal in 2000 [19] and the Order of the Star of Romania in 2004. [20]

The 2009 Bel Air Film Festival featured the world premiere of a documentary film on Ernst Science Plus Dharma Equals Social Responsibility. Produced by Carlo Burton, the film takes place in Ernst's hometown in Switzerland. [21]

Selected bibliography

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  1. 1 2 3 "Professor Richard Ernst ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-10-11.
  2. Alger, J R (1992). "The 1991 Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to an MRI investigator". Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography. 16 (1): 1–2. doi:10.1097/00004728-199201000-00001. PMID   1729287.
  3. Aue, W. P. (1976). "Two-dimensional spectroscopy. Application to nuclear magnetic resonance". The Journal of Chemical Physics. 64 (5): 2229–2246. Bibcode:1976JChPh..64.2229A. doi:10.1063/1.432450. ISSN   0021-9606.
  4. Freeview video interview with Richard Ernst by the Vega Science Trust
  5. Interview with Professor Richard R. Ernst by Joanna Rose, science writer, 8 December 2001.
  6. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1991
  7. Ernst Autobiography at
  8. Ernst, Richard, R. "Richard R. Ernst". Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  9. Ernst, Richard R. (1962). Kernresonanz-Spektroskopie mit stochastischen Hochfrequenzfeldern (PhD thesis). Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich. doi:10.3929/ethz-a-000091764.
  10. Prof. Dr. Richard R. Ernst, ETH Zurich Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, (Retrieved April 18, 2016)
  11. 1 2 "Prof. Dr. Richard R. Ernst". Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  12. Estonian Academy of Sciences, Membership
  13. List of Fellows of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences Archived 2010-04-15 at the Wayback Machine
  14. 1 2 3 "Ernst, Richard, Prof. Dr". Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  15. Rooney, Terrie M. (1998). Contemporary authors. V. 158. Peacock, Scot. Detroit: Gale. p. 114. ISBN   0-7876-1185-9. OCLC   37926306.
  16. "Kirkwood Award". ACS New Haven. ACS New Haven. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  17. "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1991". Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 10 Nov 2015. <>
  18. The Official Site of Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
  19. "Reichstein Medal | Swiss Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences SAPhS". Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  20. "DECRET 18 16/01/2004 - Portal Legislativ".
  21. "Film Festival Ticker". Archived from the original on 2009-11-11.
  22. Ernst, Richard R. (1987). Principles of nuclear magnetic resonance in one and two dimensions. Bodenhausen, Geoffrey., Wokaun, Alexander. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Clarendon Press. ISBN   0-19-855629-2. OCLC   12804280.