Gerhard Ertl

2007 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry


  • Born on October 10, 1936 in Bad Cannstatt, Germany
  • He was working for the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft at the time of his award
  • Field: inorganic chemistry and surface chemistry
  • Education: Technical University of Stuttgart (M.A., 1961), the University of Paris, and the Technical University of Munich (Ph.D., 1965) High school (Johannes Kepler Gymnasium)
  • Fun Fact! He was a piano player in a band he formed called the Perroquets!
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Why Did they Win?

He won because he caused ripples in the small field of surface chemistry

His research can explain

-Explain the destruction of the ozone layer

It helps solve the problem
-How fuel cells can be better

-Better understanding of why things rust

It is currently being used for

-anticorrosion suits

-medical implants

The future impact of the research is

- Molecular understanding

- way to create chemicals easier

His disovery didn't challenge other findings; his research and discovery was completely new

Experiments and Lab Work

- He first studied an experiment of 2H2+O2 -> 2H2O on surfaces of Germanium in order to study surface science

- He also led an experiment in which he tested the interactions of oxygen on copper crystal surfaces (semi-conductor). He decided to study these interactions more in the future.

- His scientific method: Solid surfaces have a big influence on chemical processes!

- Used LEED at the beginnning of career, but later used STM and UPS in order to get results from his experiments in surface science, as observation techniques

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Experimental Results!

- He was able to image the movement changes in surface structure and coverage in a reaction

- Determined new method of reacting ammonia over iron, which is the Haber-Bosch process

- Also observed reacting of carbon monoxide over platinum

- Discovered moving reactions over platinum surfaces