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International Master

Faculty History

Research tradition at the faculty of Röntgen, Wien, Stark and von Klitzing

Physics in Würzburg has a long and venerable tradition. In 1749 a chair for experimental physics was established already. Before that physics was part of the faculty of philosophy. Even in the early 17th century a famous scholar worked in Würzburg and dealt with problems of physics: Father Athanasius Kircher.

Modern physics arrived in Würzburg in the middle of the 19th century with Rudolf Clausius, a founder of thermodynamics. His successors were renowned scholars, too. Initially physics was accommodated in the old university on today's 'Domerschulstraße'. At the end of that century working conditions were not reasonable anymore and in 1879 professor Friedrich Kohlrausch planned and realized a new department at the former 'Pleicherring'. It was one of most modern departments in Europe. In 1888 Kohlrausch was succeeded by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen who had been working as an assistant in the department of physics. His exciting discovery of x-rays on November 8th 1895 suddenly made the department of physics in Würzburg world famous. In 1900 Röntgen was succeeded by Wilhelm Wien who received the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on heat radiation in 1911. He was succeeded by Nobel Prize recipient Johannes Stark in 1920 who had done pioneering work in the area of nuclear physics. After his departure in 1922 it was not possible to find a successor with a high reputation. The development of physics in Würzburg stagnated for some time.

After the department on 'Röntgenring' was destroyed in 1945 reconstruction was very difficult in the beginning. However a focused extension of the department of physics in Würzburg started in the sixties: three new chairs for experimental, applied and theoretical physics were created. In the seventies another chair for experimental physics and for didactics of physics was added. The Department of Physics was reorganized and in 1968 the main emphasis was put towards solid state physics. Especially semi conductor physics was established, which already was a tradition in Würzburg. This development peaked in 1985 when Klaus von Klitzing received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the quantum Hall effect.

The rooms on Röntgenring soon turned out to be too small and a new building for the department of physics was finished on 'Am Hubland' in 1987. Within this expansion of the faculty new chairs for technical physics, biophysics and computational physics were created. The rooms of the department were extended by a micro scale laboratory in which new semi conductor materials are being researched. An annex for biophysics was built which allowed further development in magnetic resonance imaging. The chair of computational physics is the first of its kind in Germany.

In 1991 the 'Bayerische Zentrum für Angewandte Energieforschung e.V.' (Bavarian center for applied energy research) was founded which is closely related with our faculty. This way our students are able to research new materials for thermal insulation for example.

Nobelprize Winners in Physics