UA Ruhr News Center

15. 05. 2023

Humboldt Professorship Conferred in Berlin

Twelve top international researchers were awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship at a ceremony in Berlin on Thursday, 11 May. Among the award winners is Prof. Edvardas Narevicius, who last year moved from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel to the Department of Physics at TU Dortmund University. He is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in ultra-low temperature chemistry and is a member of the Research Center for Chemical Sciences and Sustainability of the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr).

The Alexander von Humboldt Professorship is Germany’s best-endowed international research award. Robert Schlögl, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, welcomed the award winners to Germany and encouraged them to conduct research in freedom and to advance knowledge, particularly in the field of basic research. Sabine Döring, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, also expressed her congratulations: “Every year, we honor internationally outstanding scientists with this special prize. We are delighted that this year's award winners are contributing their excellence to Germany as a research location.”

Specialist for ultracold reactions
TU Dortmund University had successfully nominated Prof. Edvardas Narevicius for the Humboldt Professorship a year ago. After brief appointment negotiations, the 49-year-old chemist moved to the Ruhr area for the winter semester and had his entire laboratory equipment shipped in a freight container from Israel to Dortmund. Thus, this was also the first international appointment that TU Dortmund University was able to complete as a member of the UA Ruhr for the newly founded Research Alliance Ruhr.

"The call to the Ruhr region for a Humboldt Professorship at the Research Center Chemical Sciences and Sustainability is a great opportunity to further expand my research," says Professor Narevicius. "Of course, moving to another country is always a big change. But as a family, we made a conscious decision to do so."

Sabine Döring, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, awards Prof. Edvardas Narevicius the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship in Berlin.
Sabine Döring, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, awards Prof. Edvardas Narevicius the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship in Berlin.
© Humboldt-Stiftung / Jens Jeske

Prof. Edvardas Narevicius is a pioneer in the experimental investigation of quantum effects in molecular collisions, which can only be detected at extremely low temperatures close to absolute zero. Such ultra-cold conditions are critical to reveal subtle quantum effects that dominate reactions where molecules start behaving as waves and not as particles. There are many surprises where quantum nature plays a key role. For example, quantum tunneling allows particles to overcome energy barriers – thus, a reaction at -273 °C may become as fast as at room temperature. Prof. Narevicius reaches the lowest collision energies by manipulating the velocities of atoms and molecules using high magnetic fields. With the help of this method, he has been able to make far-reaching contributions to molecular physics and chemical dynamics at the lowest temperatures as well as observe and analyze long sought after quantum effects. Together with his wife, engineering physicist Julia Narevicius, he developed the sophisticated experiment. This apparatus facilitates groundbreaking new research that could be just as relevant for astrophysics as for quantum science.

Research Center Chemical Sciences and Sustainability
The professorship “Ultracold Reactions” has been assigned to the Research Center Chemical Sciences and Sustainability of the UA Ruhr. The Center aims to understand chemical products, processes and reactions at the molecular level and utilize this knowledge for environmentally friendly and economically competitive innovations. At the same time, Prof. Narevicius is already an associated member of the “RESOLV – Ruhr explores solvation” Cluster of Excellence, which has been located at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and TU Dortmund University since 2019.

Alexander von Humboldt Professorship
Funded by the BMBF, the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship brings top international researchers from abroad to German universities. The award, which comes with up to €5 million in funding, offers optimal financial conditions and maximum flexibility for conducting leading-edge research in Germany. The new Humboldt Professors are relocating from other countries to Germany, where they will work at universities in Aachen, Darmstadt, Dortmund, Dresden, Erlangen, Jena, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Mainz and Saarbrücken. Seven of them are conducting research on Artificial Intelligence.

Contact person for inquiries:
Prof. Dr. Edvardas Narevicius
Tel.: +49 231 755 8896
Professur Ultracold Reactions
Fakultät Physik