Chemical Heritage Foundation and Pittcon Will Honor Professor Günther Laukien, Founder of Bruker Group 

Gunther Laukien

February 5, 2013 - Philadelphia

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) will present 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. This 12th annual award will be presented at Pittcon 2013, which will be held in Philadelphia for the first time in its 64-year history.

“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, Ph.D., president and CEO of Bruker Corporation today, will receive the Pittcon Heritage Award in his father’s honor at the 63th annual Pittcon, the world’s annual premier conference and exposition on laboratory science. It is organized by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a Pennsylvania not-for-profit educational corporation that comprises the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP) and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP).

Pittcon attracts nearly 20,000 attendees from industry, academia, and government from 90 countries worldwide and is managed by a committee of volunteers and an 11-person staff. Proceeds from Pittcon fund science education and outreach at all levels, kindergarten through adult.

The Pittsburgh Conference donates nearly a million dollars each year in the form of science-equipment grants, research grants, scholarships and internships for students, awards to teachers and professors, and grants to public-science centers, libraries, and museums.

More information is available at

About Professor Günther Laukien

Günther Laukien (1924–1997) 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.

In addition to the scientific instrument business Günther Laukien also started a company developing and producing research and rescue submarines. One of the highlights of this venture was the successful rescue of a submersible vessel trapped in the North Sea. He also initiated cooperation with IBM for the development and production of analytical instruments that IBM Instruments distributed under their own label for a decade. Later, Bruker repurchased IBM’s holdings and integrated portions of the newly developed PC-based systems into its own product line, which brought new markets and software expertise to Bruker.  

About the Pittcon Heritage Award

The Pittcon Heritage Award is jointly sponsored by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. This award recognizes outstanding individuals whose entrepreneurial careers shaped the instrumentation and laboratory supplies community, inspired achievement, promoted public understanding of the modern instrumentation sciences, and highlighted the role of analytical chemistry in world economies.

The award is presented annually at a special ceremony during Pittcon. The recipient’s name and achievements are added to a roster of Pittcon Hall of Fame members that includes such industry pioneers as Arnold Beckman, Robert Finnigan, Chester Fisher, Aaron Martin, James Waters, and others.  

About the Chemical Heritage Foundation

The Chemical Heritage Foundation is a collections-based nonprofit organization that preserves the history and heritage of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences and technologies. The collections are used to create a body of original scholarship that illuminates chemistry’s role in shaping society. In bridging science with the humanities, arts, and social sciences, CHF is committed to building a vibrant, international community of scholars; creating a rich source of traditional and emerging media; expanding the reach of our museum; and engaging the broader society through inventive public events.

For more information, please visit

Need Meeting Space?

CHF’s state-of-the-art conference center is in Philadelphia’s beautiful historic district.

Upcoming Events

Meet us in person at one of our events.


Distillations Podcast logo
Listen to the latest episodes of CHF’s award-winning podcast.