Rudolf Moessbauer

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Rudolf Mößbauer, 1961

Rudolf Ludwig Mößbauer (born January 31, 1929 in Munich ; † September 14, 2011 in Grünwald , district of Munich ) was a German physicist and discoverer of the Mößbauer effect , for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1961 .


In 1948 Mößbauer graduated from secondary school in Munich-Pasing . Since his interest in physics was awakened by the Deutsches Museum , as Mößbauer said, he studied this subject and graduated in 1955.

From 1955 to 1957 he carried out experiments at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg and wrote a dissertation on the subject of nuclear magnetic resonance fluorescence of gamma rays in Iridium 191 . He succeeded in making the first observation of the recoil-free nuclear resonance absorption, the Mössbauer effect. In 1958, the oral examination was followed by the doctorate under Heinz Maier-Leibnitz , Technical University of Munich . Once again at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg in 1958 he succeeded in direct experimental proof of the Mössbauer effect. From 1960 he conducted research at the invitation of Richard Feynman at CalTech , became a professor there in 1961 and received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1961 together with Robert Hofstadter “for his investigations into the resonance absorption of gamma radiation and the discovery of the effect named after him”. From 1964 he worked again at the Technical University of Munich, which awarded the former professor of experimental physics with the University's Golden Ring of Honor in 2004. He took part in the German discussion about the reform of the higher education system and tried to introduce positive experiences from his time in the USA (especially the structural advantages of the “department system”) in Germany. He also made a corresponding conversion of the physical institutes a condition for his return to Munich in 1965. From 1965 to 1969 he also worked three months a year at Caltech.

From 1972 to 1977 he was one of the two directors of the Laue-Langevin Institute (ILL), Grenoble / France , which operates a high-flux neutron reactor there . He then returned to the Technical University of Munich, where he retired in 1997 .

Miniaturized versions of the Mössbauer spectrometer named after him for the analysis of u. a. Ferrous substances were successfully used in the two NASA Mars probes Spirit and Opportunity . With the help of the Mössbauer effect, Robert Pound and Glen Rebka succeeded in detecting the gravitational redshift - corresponding to a time dilation - in the earth's gravitational field in 1960 .

In the early 1970s he turned to neutrino physics , first at the ILL and then in Munich.

Mößbauer campaigned for international cooperation in physics, especially with Soviet scientists, even during the Cold War. He visited the Soviet Union several times and organized meetings between American and Soviet physicists.

Rudolf Mößbauer was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (Rome), the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , since 1970 a member of the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina , since 1971 of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and since 1978 of the National Academy of Sciences . He was awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit on June 23, 1962.

In 1961 he received the Röntgen Prize from the University of Giessen, in 1961 the Elliott Cresson Medal from the Franklin Institute Philadelphia, in 1964 the Great Cross of Merit with Star and Shoulder Ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germany, in 1984 the Lomonossow Gold Medal and in 2004 the Golden Ring of Honor from the Technical University of Munich.

The Institute for Advanced Studies at the Technical University of Munich is dedicating a tenure track program to Mößbauer.


  • Michael Kalvius , Paul Kienle (Eds.), The Rudolf Mössbauer Story: His Scientific Work and Its Impact on Science and History, Springer 2012
  • Friedrich E. Wagner : Rudolf Mössbauer and the development of the Garching research site , in: Hyperfine Interactions, March 2012, Volume 204, Issue 1–3, pp 83–88.


  • Nuclear magnetic resonance absorption of gamma radiation in Ir191, Die Naturwissenschaften, Volume 45, 1958, pp. 538-539
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance absorption of γ radiation in Ir191, Zeitschrift für Naturforschung, Volume 14A, 1959, pp. 211-216
  • Gamma radiation in Ir191. In: Journal of Physics. Volume 151, 1958, pp. 124-143

Web links

Commons : Rudolf Mössbauer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dieter Hoffmann, Günter Kaindl: physicist and pianist . In: Tagesspiegel . September 20, 2011 (obituary).
  2. Mößbauer's curriculum vitae at the Leopoldina
  3. [TUM overview: Golden Ring of Honor of the Technical University of Munich] (accessed on December 1, 2014)
  4. ^ Rudolf Ludwig Mössbauer: Structural problems of the German university . Bremen 1965.
  5. ^ Obituary in Physik Journal, 2011
  6. ^ Institute for Advanced Study (IAS): Rudolf Mößbauer Tenure Track Professorship. Retrieved June 7, 2018 .