Wolf Prize Laureate in Chemistry 1991
Affiliation at the time of the award:
University of California, USA
“for their revolutionary contributions to NMR spectroscopy, especially Fourier-transform and two-dimensional NMR by Ernst, and multiple-quantum and high-spin NMR by Pines”.
The field of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), which revolutionized the practice of chemistry during the fifties and sixties, has undergone more recently far-reaching developments that have vastly expanded its usage to hitherto inaccessible systems and have had numerous implications in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, in medical diagnosis, and in materials science. Foremost leaders in conceiving and implementing these prominent achievements are Richard Ernst and Alexander Pines, who have consistently and creatively pointed the way for others to follow.
Professor Alexander Pines, while still a graduate student, helped engineer in 1972 (together with John Waugh) one of the most important revolutions in modern NMR. Their cross-polarization magic-angle spinning technique opened the field of solid-state NMR to applications of enormous impact in materials science. His later works in Berkeley have continued to profoundly influence modern NMR spectroscopy. Among his most notable achievements is the method of selective multiple-quantum excitations, which has led to a truly coherent picture of nuclear spin dynamics, and has opened up new exciting possibilities for studying the structures of molecules and molecular clusters in solids. More recently, Professor Pines has led another fundamental development in NMR. By introducing the techniques of dynamic-angle spinning and double-rotation, he was able to extend high-resolution solid-state NMR to nuclei with spins higher than one half, where resolutions have been severely impeded by quadrupole effects. His brilliant solution allowed, for the first time, access to various nuclei of critical importance to the study of materials of high interest for technological and catalytic uses.