Recognized internationally as a pioneer of electronic spin interactions in organic molecules, Professor Ron Naaman, from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, has been awarded the Meitner-Humboldt Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The prize is intended to support collaborations between Israeli and German research institutions. He will be collaborating closely with physics and chemistry groups, in particular with Professor Helmut Zacharias’ group, at the new Center for Soft Nanoscience (SoN) at the University of Münster.
Ron Naaman has a history of influencing the fields of spintronics and photochemical reactions and is currently known for his innovative work on the Chiral Induced Spin Selectivity (CISS) Effect. In his research, Ron Naaman tunes electrochemical processes to investigate the curious dissymmetry of nature, which has merely one type of two mirror-image molecules, including the essential DNA, protein, sugar, and peptide molecules. His work has profound implications for understanding electron transfer processes in biological systems and for the ability to create safe new drugs, pesticides and fertilizers.
Because of the potential significant impact his collaboration with Helmut Zacharias’s group will have on future research in the area of chiral and helical molecules, the Meitner-Humboldt Research Prize is financing Ron Naaman’s cooperation with SoN researchers for the next five years.
Ron Naaman will work closely with experimental groups and hold discussions with theoretical groups at the SoN, pulling together new ideas and innovative scientific goals to excite new areas of research on spin-dependent processes. In one of the projects, the two groups will run femtosecond pump-probe experiments in both Israel and Münster on the effect of photoexcitation of chiral molecules on their spin transport properties.
Ron Namaan and Helmut Zacharias have had a long-standing collaboration. In 2014 they were jointly awarded a research grant by the Volkswagen Foundation, along with a group at TU Dresden and one at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, for spin research in chiral molecules, including the demonstration of spintronic device elements.
In 1991, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space (MOST) agreed upon the funding of the Meitner-Humboldt Research Award. It is named in memory of the Austrian nuclear physicist Lise Meitner and the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt.