Leopoldina honours the chemist Klaus Müllen with the Cothenius Medal for his scientific life's work

September 20, 2019

The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina honours its member Klaus Müllen with the Cothenius Medal. The researcher receives this award for his outstanding scientific life's work. The award ceremony took place during the opening of the Leopoldina Annual Meeting on Friday, 20 September 2019 in Halle (Saale).

Prof. Dr. Klaus Müllen (born 1947) is one of the world's leading experts in the field of polymer chemistry. His research achievements lie at the interface between nanochemistry and materials science. In addition to basic research on carbon materials, Müllen is also interested in their application in information and energy technology.

From the left: Jörg Hacker, President of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Klaus Müllen, Jutta Schnitzer-Ungefug, Leopoldina Secretary General.

In particular, Müller's work on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a specific group of organic compounds, is regarded as groundbreaking. Closely related to this group of substances is graphene, a monolayer material obtained from graphite with unique electronic properties. With his research team, the chemist has succeeded in taking a decisive step towards synthesis methods for the production of nanographs and graphene nanostrips (partial structures of graphene). The advantage of the synthetic method is that extremely pure and structurally defined substances can be obtained.

Klaus Müllen's research is particularly characterized by its application relevance. For example, he developed carbon-containing compounds as catalysts in electrodes for fuel cells and improved the properties of materials in the field of organic electronics and optoelectronics. His scientific work also has great potential for energy technology, for example in the manufacture of organic solar cells or in increasing the efficiency of batteries and supercapacitors. In addition, he developed polymers for organic light-emitting diodes and researched the synthesis and characterization of fluorescent dyes.

Klaus Müllen studied chemistry in Cologne and received his doctorate from the University of Basel. After his habilitation at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, he successively accepted professorships at the University of Cologne and the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. In 1989 he was appointed Director of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. Mr. Müllen was President of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) and the Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians (GDNÄ). Among the numerous prizes and awards that he has received for his scientific achievements are the Hamburg Science Prize 2017 and the Karl Ziegler Prize of the Society of German Chemists of 2019. Müllen is a member of several scientific academies. He was admitted to the Leopoldina in 1999.

The Cothenius Medal goes back to a foundation of the Leopoldina member and personal physician of the Prussian King Friedrich II, Christian Andreas von Cothenius (1708-1789). It was awarded for the first time in 1792. Initially, the prizewinners were honoured for their work on medical research questions. Since 1954, the Leopoldina has awarded the Cothenius Medals for the outstanding scientific life's work of the honoured. As a rule, the awards are presented to members of the Academy. The winners include the physician and zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1864) and Konrad Zuse (1985), the developer of the first computer.

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