Photo: Wolfram Däumel, Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Born in 1936 in Bad Cannstadt, Germany. PhD in Physical Chemistry in 1965 from Technische Universität München, Germany. Professor Emeritus, Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany.
Ertl has laid the foundation of a scientific discipline through his enormously systematic and thorough studies. He has often returned to the same problem in surface chemistry decade after decade in order to use new experimental methods to obtain answers to questions posed earlier. His ability to describe in detail how an experiment is to be designed and interpreted has helped him to provide the methodological platform for an entirely new area of research.
Molecules on surfaces
Chemical reactions on solid surfaces are very important in our everyday lives but difficult to study. Ever since the 1960s Gerhard Ertl has been using advanced vacuum techniques to make systematic studies of surface reactions which have enabled him to demonstrate methods of obtaining reliable results in this important and challenging research field.