Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science (KiNSIS)

Diels-Planck-Lecture 2015 goes to Professor Ben Feringa from the University of Groningen

Ben FeringaProfessor Ben Feringa from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) is the winner of the Diels Planck Lecture 2015. The prize is awarded annually by the members of the Kiel Nano Research Center (KINSIS) to leading scientists in the fields of nano and surface sciences. The lecture series honors the founders of nanoscience in Kiel, the Nobel Prize winners Max Planck and Otto Diels. In his lecture "The Art of Building Small: From Molecular Switches to Molecular Motors", the award winner reported on Thursday, September 3, 2015, in the Audimax of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) on the groundbreaking contributions from his research group in the field of molecular nanosciences. His interdisciplinary research makesFeringa an ideal candidate for the Diels Planck Medal, stressed CAU Vice President Professor Karin Schwarz: "Max Planck as a physicist and Otto Diels as a chemist were also pioneers in the nanosciences.

"Ben Feringa is one of the most creative and productive chemists of our time. With more than 900 publications in the most prestigious journals, numerous patents and books, he has made important contributions in many areas of chemistry," says Professor Rainer Herges of the Kiel-based Otto Diels Institute for Organic Chemistry in his laudation. Feringa's research group is best known for the development of the first light-driven molecular motor. "With this, he made a decisive contribution to the development of molecular nanotechnology in the 1990s. His scientific pioneering work established a new important branch of research in the nanosciences," Herges explained. For the development of molecular switches, the "Feringa Motor" and its applications, the prizewinner has already been honored with numerous international awards and was knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands in 2008.

Molecular motors are found in abundance in nature: every cell division, every muscle movement and even brain functions are only possible if molecules are specifically transported from one place in the body to another. By replicating such "motors", for example, it has also become possible to produce antibiotics that can be switched on and off and that only work at the site of the disease. Professor Feringa also sees many social challenges of the future as challenges of his discipline: "Food, medicines, clean water or energy could be produced by chemical processes with the right tools. In his motivational keynote speech, Feringa therefore specifically addressed young scientists: "Don't be afraid to break new ground. Cross boundaries and try to develop something new - because there is a lot to do".


Further information about the prize winner:
Ben L. Feringa received his doctorate from Professor Dr. Hans Wynberg at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. After working as a scientist at Shell in the Netherlands and at the Shell Biosciences Centre in the UK, Feringa became a lecturer and in 1988 professor at the University of Groningen. In 2004 he was appointed Jacobus H. van't Hoff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Science. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected him an honorary member, and he is also a member and vice president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. In 2008 he was appointed Academy Professor and knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands.

Feringa's research has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Körber European Science Award (2003), the Spinoza Award (2004), the Prelog Gold Medal (2005), the Norrish Award of the ACS (2007), the Paracelsus Medal (2008), the Chirality Medal (2009), the RSC Organic Stereochemistry Award (2011), Humboldt Award (2012), the Grand Prix Scientifique Cino del Duca (2012), the Marie Curie Medal (2013) and the Nagoya Gold Medal (2013) His research interests focus on stereochemistry, organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, molecular switches and motors, and self-assembling and molecular nanosystems.

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