Swiss researcher and teacher who in 1991 won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry
for his development of techniques for high-resolution nuclear magnetic
resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Ernst's refinements made NMR techniques
a basic and indispensable tool in chemistry and also extended their
usefulness to other sciences.
In 1968 he returned to Switzerland to teach at his alma mater. He was made assistant professor in 1970 and full professor in 1976. His second major contribution to the field of NMR spectroscopy was a technique that enabled a high-resolution, "two-dimensional" study of larger molecules than had previously been accessible to NMR. With Ernst's refinements, scientists were able to determine the three-dimensional structure of organic and inorganic compounds and of biological macromolecules such as proteins; to study the interaction between biological molecules and other substances such as metal ions, water, and drugs; to identify chemical species; and to study the rates of chemical reactions.
Ernst also was credited with many inventions and held several patents
in his field.
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