Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science (KiNSIS)

Diels-Planck Lecture 2018 goes to Maki Kawai

Makai KawaiOn Friday, 4 May, the priority research area Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science (KiNSIS) at Kiel University (CAU) awarded the Diels-Planck Lecture for the fifth time. The award went to Professor Maki Kawai, Director General of the Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki, Japan, for her key contributions to physical chemistry relating to processes and functional molecules on surfaces. The award is made every year by the roughly 100 KiNSIS members to honour internationally-renowned personalities from the field of nano and surface science. Today, KiNSIS also awarded the PhD prizes for outstanding doctoral theses in its priority research area in the Audimax at Kiel University.

In her welcome address, CAU Vice President Professor Ilka Parchmann emphasised the huge importance of interdisciplinary research at KiNSIS. Prize-winner Maki Kawai combines research beyond the boundaries of physics and chemistry, investigating molecules on crystal surfaces and their function as catalysts and tiny machines. Kawai presented her work during a lecture at the award ceremony, which particularly includes experiments on elementary processes in individual molecules.

"Maki Kawai continuously makes pioneering contributions to research on functional molecules on surfaces. In addition, she also finds time to fulfil many important functions in the Japanese science system. Her energy is admirable," praised Richard Berndt, professor of Surface Physics at the Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics at CAU, during his laudatory speech.

Today, the research focus area also honoured Dr-Ing. Christine Kirchhof with the PhD prize for nano-engineering. The material scientist completed her doctoral thesis titled "Resonant magneto-electrical sensors for the detection of low-frequency magnetic fields" at the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1261 under the supervision of its spokesperson, Professor Eckhard Quandt. Here, amongst other achievements, she played a decisive role in the development of a high-precision manufacturing process at the nano-scale for magneto-electrical sensors. In the long term, these could be deployed to detect magnetic signals from the body. "Dr Kirchhof's highly-acclaimed results form the backbone of many other research topics at the CRC," said Quandt in his award speech.

In conclusion, KiNSIS spokesperson Professor Rainer Adelung emphasised the intention of the awards ceremony: "Today's awarding of these two prizes combines promoting excellent young scientists with recognising international cutting-edge research on surfaces and functional molecules."

About the award-winner Prof. Dr Maki Kawai

Maki Kawai is Director General at the Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki since 2016, and Professor at the Department of Advanced Materials Science at the University of Tokyo since 2004. Amongst other activities, she previously conducted research at the RIKEN Institute. She completed her studies in chemistry at the University of Tokyo in 1977, where she also obtained her doctorate. Kawai has received numerous awards in recognition of her research on chemical reactions at surfaces, including the Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government (2017), the Medard W. Welch Award from the American Vacuum Society (2016), the Gerhard Ertl Lecture Award of the Max Planck Society (2015), the Mukai Award (2012) and the Fellowship of the American Physical Society (2010).

About the Diels-Planck Lecture

The lectures series honours the originators of the nanosciences in Kiel, the Nobel laureates Max Planck and Otto Diels. Max Planck was born in Kiel in 1858 and was appointed as professor of theoretical physics by Kiel University in 1897. In 1918 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking work on quantum theory, which is the fundamental theory to describe nanostructures. Otto Diels was professor of chemistry at Kiel University from 1915 until his retirement in 1945. Together with his doctoral student Kurt Alder, he discovered and developed a class of chemical reactions that was later coined Diels-Alder reactions, which is one of the most powerful methods to synthesize chemical compounds including nanomaterials. Otto Diels was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1950.

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