swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

Your Gateway to Switzerland

Nobel Prizewinners

The universities and federal institutes of technology impose high standards, and in consequence achieve a high level of performance. Natural sciences are particularly successful, especially physics, chemistry and medicine. No fewer than seven Nobel Prizes have been awarded to Swiss scientists in these areas since 1975.

The prizes include the 1987 award for physics, shared between the Swiss Alexander Müller and the German Georg Bednorz for  their development of a ceramic oxide material which has absolute conductivity at minus 238 degrees, an achievement which could make possible huge energy savings.

In 1986, the Swiss Heinrich Rohrer and the German Gerd Binnig won the Nobel Prize for Physics. They developed the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM), with which they made atoms "visible" for the first time. A fine metal pin feels the unevenness of the surface and converts the information into a three-dimensional computer image.

Richard Ernst received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1991 for his work in the area of nuclear magnetic resonance, which is used in medical diagnosis and also in chemistry, to determine the structure of compounds.

The most recent award to a Swiss was the 2002 chemistry prize which went to Kurt Wüthrich for his work on proteins.