W.E. Moerner wins chemical physics prize

W. E. Moerner

W. E. Moerner

W. E. Moerner, the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry, has been awarded the 2009 Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics by the American Physical Society.

Moerner was chosen "for making major contributions to the chemical physics of biological systems and non-biological materials through the application of single molecule spectroscopy," according to the citation.

The prize consists of $10,000 and a certificate citing the contributions made by the recipient.

"The Langmuir Prize is one of the premier prizes in physical chemistry or chemical physics," said Richard Zare, chair of the Department of Chemistry. "I'm so delighted. This is a continuation of a brilliant career, which has already been recognized by the awarding of the Wolf Prize."

Moerner received the Wolf Prize in Chemistry earlier this year.

Zare said that Moerner created a new field of science, single-molecule spectroscopy and imaging, by being the first to perform optical detection and spectroscopy of a single molecule in condensed matter in 1989.

The biennial Langmuir Prize has been awarded since 1965 "to recognize and encourage outstanding interdisciplinary research in chemistry and physics, in the spirit of Irving Langmuir," according to the American Physical Society web page that describes the award. (In odd-numbered years, the American Physical Society selects the prize recipient and presents the prize. In even-numbered years, the American Chemical Society selects the prize recipient and presents the prize.)

"I'm obviously very pleased to have received this," Moerner said. "What has been exciting recently is the application of these ideas to biological systems by many scientists around the world. So I'm happy to be recognized for our contribution. I'm always indebted to the work of my collaborators and students and colleagues for everything that gets done, and this is an example of that."

Langmuir was a pioneering researcher who was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in chemistry. The Langmuir Prize was established in 1964 by the General Electric Foundation (now the GE Fund & GE R&D).

Other Stanford faculty members who have received the prize in previous years include Richard Zare in 1985 and Harden McConnell in 1972.