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The German Bunsen Society has awarded the Nernst-Haber-Bodenstein prize to physicist Ellen Backus, for her original and unique experimental contribution to unravel the structure and dynamics of molecules, especially water, at interfaces.

Image: Prerna Sudera / MPI-P

Backus is professor by special appointment of Non-Linear Spectroscopy of Surfaces and Interfaces at the University of Amsterdam and leads the research group “Water at interfaces” at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer research in Mainz. Her research focuses on understanding the structure and dynamics of water molecules at interfaces. Amongst others, the properties of water adjacent to hard and soft interfaces are relevant for applications in electrochemistry, folding of macromolecules, and catalysis. In order to selectively study water molecules at interfaces, Backus uses time-resolved nonlinear optical spectroscopic techniques.

Outstanding achievements

The Nernst-Haber-Bodenstein prize is awarded every year to a young scientist up to 40 years of age for outstanding achievements in physical chemistry. This year the prize was given to two scientists: Ellen Backus and Joachim Paier from the Humboldt University in Berlin. The awards were handed out during the opening ceremony of this year's meeting of the German Bunsen Society for Physical Chemistry in Hannover.