Nano sciences honor renowned U.S. nanotechnologist R. Stanley Williams and their best dissertations

Diels-Planck Lecture and Doctoral Thesis Awards by CAU's priority research area KiNSIS



R. Stanley Williams of Texas A&M University has received this year's Diels-Planck Medal from the priority research area KiNSIS at Kiel University (CAU). The interdisciplinary association "Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science" thus honors outstanding international scientists in the fields of nano and surface science. Williams was recognized for his pioneering work on memristive devices and neuromorphic computing inspired by the human brain. At the hybrid award ceremony on November 9th in the Audimax of the CAU, Williams gave a keynote address with the Diels-Planck Lecture. In addition, the best doctoral theses of the past year were also awarded.  

In her welcoming address, Professor Simone Fulda, President of the CAU, congratulated the award winners on their performance and emphasized the importance of such an award ceremony for international visibility, the promotion of young scientists and the formation of collaborations. 

For the best dissertations from the past year within KiNSIS Dr. Patrick Hayes (for the research are of "Engineering"), Dr. Sebastian Meyer (Physics), Dr. Jennifer Strehse (Life Science) and Dr.-Ing. Salih Veziroglu (Engineering) were honored. In short presentations, they presented their research topics, with which they made important contributions to their respective fields of research, to the collaboration between working groups and to large-scale research projects at the CAU. "We are pleased to have such talented, creative and enthusiastic young researchers in the nano and surface science" said KiNSIS spokesperson Professor Jeffrey McCord, who hosted the event together with fellow spokesperson Professor Kai Rossnagel. "With these awards, we want to encourage them in their excellent work and wish them every success in their further research."

"As members of KiNSIS, we investigate fundamental processes at the nano level that occur at surfaces and interfaces and are responsible, for example, for the functions of materials and devices. These findings we want to bring into technical or health applications - Stanley Williams' memristors are an ideal example of this," Rossnagel said, introducing the main part of the event, the Diels Planck Lecture by this year's winner Stanley Williams.

In his lecture, which he gave online from Texas, Williams made that novel computers inspired by the efficient working human brain is a “hot topic” in research worldwide: "The field of neuromorphic computing is exploding, with major breakthroughs reported regularly." His goal is not to develop a brain that can replace a human being but to create a tool that humans can use to amplify their intellectual capability. To this end, he has been working on memristors for years, new circuit elements that can perform the function of thousands of transistors saving mass, time and energy.

Such memristors are also the basis for the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1461 "Neurotronics: Bio inspired Information Pathways," which started this year at the CAU, said CRC spokesman Professor Hermann Kohlstedt in his laudation. The interdisciplinary research network wants to transfer knowledge about biological nervous systems to technical information processing. By this they hope to improve, for example, the energy efficiency or the pattern and language recognition of existing systems.

Williams was very honored by the award, thanked the young researchers for their inspiring presentations, and hopes to be able to come to Kiel from the USA in person next year, if the Corona situation allows.


About the award winner R. Stanley Williams
R. Stanley Williams is a professor at Texas A&M University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and holds the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company Chair. After receiving his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, he conducted research as a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), among other positions, before founding the Quantum Science Research Hewlett-Packard Laboratory. He later served as a senior fellow at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, as well as vice president and, until 2018, senior vice president.


© Julia Siekmann, Uni Kiel

Collaborate Research Center 1261 „Magnetoelectric Sensors: From Composite Materials to Biomagnetic Diagnostics“, Supvervisor Professor Eckhard Quandt

© Julia Siekmann, Uni Kiel

Institute for Theoretical and Astrophysics, Supervisor Professor Stefan Heinze

Dr.-Ing. Patrick Hayes

Title of the Doctoral Thesis: »Converse Magnetoelectric Resonators for Biomagnetic Field Sensing«

In his doctoral thesis Patrick Hayes investigated new types of magnetic field sensors that can be used to detect biomagnetic signals such as those generated by the human heart muscle. “I was very fascinated by the collaboration between the most variety of disciplines in the context of a higher-level research task,” explains the materials scientist, whose innovative approaches have resulted in two patents. He is continuing his research in the working group “Inorganic Functional Materials”.



Dr. Sebastian Meyer

Title of the Doctoral Thesis: »First Principles investigation of complex magnetism in ultrathin film systems«

Meyer has investigated complex magnetic structures that could be of interest for storage technology, neural networks or transistors, among other things. “Investigating, discovering and explaining these new 'spin structures' in close collaboration with experimenters is both challenging and fascinating,” explains the physicist, who is now working at the University of Liège, Belgium. While studying metallic films in Kiel, his research now focusses on isolators, especially multiferroics, with promising nanotechnological applications.



© Julia Siekmann, Uni Kiel

Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology for Natural Scientists, Supervisor Professor Edmund Maser

© Julia Siekmann, Uni Kiel

Institute for Materials Science, Supervisor Professor Franz Faupel

Dr. Jennifer Strehse

Title of the Doctoral Thesis: »SDR superfamily members carbonyl reductase and Sniffer from Daphnia species and Mytilus spp.: Oxidative stress response, biomonitoring of sea-dumped munitions and molecular biomarker for TNT contaminations«

Strehse has researched old munition that has been lying on the bottom of the Baltic Sea since the First and Second World Wars. Using mussels, she developed a monitoring system to find out whether harmful substances such as TNT end up in the sea. "For me, the acute and chronic effects on people and the flora and fauna are particularly exciting, but also the social and political relevance of the topic," says the pharmacist. In the future, she wants to pursue other human and ecotoxicological issues, such as drug residues in the environment.


Dr.-Ing. Salih Veziroglu

Title of Doctoral Thesis: »Functional Metal Oxide Surfaces: Photocatalytic, Self-Cleaning and Micro-/Nanostructuring Applications«

The focus of Salih Veziroglu's research is photocatalysis. "Since solar energy is efficiently converted into chemical energy, it is considered as one of the most promising approaches for solving real energy and environmental problems," explains the materials scientist. In his thesis, he modified the metal oxide thin film surfaces used in photocatalysis with metal and metal oxide nanostructures to increase their efficiency. The modified surfaces are promising for a wide range of applications such as wastewater treatment, self-cleaning surfaces, solar hydrogen production, or CO2 conversion to methanol for a next-generation energy source.



About the Diels Planck Lecture:

Since 2014, the members of the priority research area KiNSIS annually award renowned international researchers in the nano and surface sciences the Diels Planck Medal. At a keynote lecture, the Diels-Planck-Lecture, the awardees give insights into their research and come into exchange with young researchers from Kiel.

Max Planck, born in Kiel in 1858, was appointed to a professorship in theoretical physics at Kiel University in 1885. In 1918, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his pioneering work in quantum physics, which forms the basis for the description of nanostructures.

Otto Diels was professor of chemistry in Kiel until his retirement in 1945. Together with his doctoral student Kurt Alder, he discovered and developed a class of chemical reactions that are among the most important methods for producing chemical compounds and nanomaterials. In 1950 Diels received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


About the Priority Research Area KiNSIS:

The nanoworld is governed by different laws than the macroscopic world, by quantum physics. Understanding structures and processes in these dimensions and implementing the findings in an application-oriented manner is the goal of the priority research area KiNSIS (Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science) at Kiel University. Intensive interdisciplinary cooperation between physics, chemistry, engineering and life sciences could lead to the development of novel sensors and materials, quantum computers, advanced medical therapies and much more.


Portraitfoto Stanley Williams
© Texas A&M University

Professor R. Stanley, Texas A&M University, gave the Diels-Planck-Lecture 2021

© Julia Siekmann, Uni Kiel

The KiNSIS spokespersons Professor Jeffrey McCord (left) und Professor Kai Rossnagel (right) with the doctoral thesis awardess Dr.-Ing. Patrick Hayes (Engineering), Dr.-Ing. Salih Veziroglu (Engineering), Dr. Jennifer Strehse (Life Science) und Dr. Sebastian Meyer (Physics).

© Julia Siekmann, Uni Kiel

In her greeting CAU's president Professor Simone Fulda congratulated the awardees on their remarkable achievement.

© Julia Siekmann, Uni Kiel

R. Stanley Williams was unable to enter Germany due to the current corona restrictions and gave his lecture virtually from Texas, USA.

© Julia Siekmann, Uni Kiel

The award ceremony was musically accompanied by “Das Leise Trio” (from left): Gerd Pfister (guitar), Volkmar Helbig (saxophone), Harry Kretzschmar (bass).


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jeffrey McCord
KiNSIS Spokesperson (Engineering)
Institute for Materials Science
Telefon: +49 431 880-6123


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Kai Rossnagel
KiNSIS Spokesperson (Physics)
Institute for Experimental and Applied Physics
+49 431 880-3876


Press contact:

Julia Siekmann
Science Communication Officer, Research area Kiel Nano Surface and Interface Sciences