A special Lecture in Switzerland

Alois Fürstner honored with the Heilbronner-Hückel Lecture

October 19, 2023

Professor Alois Fürstner of the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung receives a special award in Switzerland. The Heilbronner-Hückel Lecture is named after two professors.

A framework agreement from 2009 between the Swiss and the German Chemical Societies arranges for an annually alternating lecture series given by a scientist in the respective neighboring country. This series is named after Prof. Edgar Heilbronner (Munich 1921 - Herrliberg 2006) and Prof. Erich Hückel (Berlin 1896 - Marburg 1980).

Erich Hückel studied physics and mathematics at the University of Göttingen and got his Habilitation at the ETH Zürich; he is considered a pioneer of quantum chemistry. His arguably most important scientific achievement is the formulation of the Hückel approximation and the resulting "Hückel rule" of aromaticity, which is now textbook knowledge.

Edgar Heilbronner emigrated with his wife to Switzerland before the Nazi regime. He studied chemistry at the ETH Zürich, where he later also made his Habilitation; in 1968 he moved to the University of Basel. As a theoretical chemist, he was strongly committed to the further development of the Hückel approximation; in 1964, he postulated the existence of aromatic compounds with the topology of a Möbius strip. The first compound of this kind was prepared only after the turn of the millennium.

This October, Alois Fürstner made up for the Heilbronner-Hückel lecture series originally planned for last year. In addition to the kick-off event at the ETH Zürich (the photograph shows him with Prof. Bill Morandi and Prof. em. Martin Quack), his lectures on organometallic catalysis research and natural product synthesis brought him to the EPFL Lausanne and the Universities of Basel, Bern and Zürich.

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