Chemical Heritage Foundation, Pittcon Honor Professor Günther Laukien, Founder of Bruker Group in Pittcon Today

Günther Laukien

Günther Laukien

March 18, 2013 - Philadelphia, PA

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) presented the 2013 Pittcon Heritage Award in honor of Günther Laukien (1924–1997), the founder of the Bruker group of companies. Jointly sponsored by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) and CHF, this award recognizes outstanding individuals whose entrepreneurial careers have shaped the scientific instrumentation community, inspired achievement, promoted public understanding of the modern instrumentation sciences, and highlighted the role of analytical chemistry in world economies.

“Dr. Günther Laukien is one of the great pioneers in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy,” said Thomas R. Tritton, president and CEO of CHF. “In the early 1960s he saw a need for high-power solids and high-resolution liquids NMR spectrometers and founded the original Bruker Physik AG to develop, make, and distribute the new devices. Within a decade his innovative NMR and EPR systems were sold around the world, and were later complemented by preclinical MRI, FT-IR, FT-Raman, and mass spectrometers.”

Günther’s son Frank Laukien, president and CEO of Bruker today, received the Pittcon Heritage Award in his father’s honor Sunday. Laukien was a pioneer in solid-state and high-resolution NMR spectroscopy instruments and a visionary entrepreneur who created instruments for a worldwide market. After postgraduate studies in Stuttgart, Germany, in physics he was named a professor at the Institute of Experimental Physics in Karlsruhe in 1960. His knowledge and expertise led to the development of a completely new pulsed NMR spectrometer and the formation of the Bruker group to develop, manufacture, and distribute the new device globally.

Introduced in 1965, Laukien’s first high-resolution NMR system, the HFX 90, had three independent channels, used all solid-state electronics, and offered new routine research capabilities only previously seen in advanced experimental systems. The new NMR spectrometer gained wide acceptance, creating a substantial market for Bruker in Europe and the United States, followed by worldwide success.

Bruker’s first commercial Fourier transform (FT) NMR spectrometer, launched in 1969, delivered enormous improvements, especially in carbon-13 spectroscopy, and then in 1972 a new class of superconducting magnet-based NMR instruments was established, which is the basis of today’s high field NMR systems. Under Laukien’s leadership expansion into new technologies from mass spectrometry to FT-IR, FT-Raman, and preclinical MRI systems followed.

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