SCIENTISTS SELECTED FOR THE HONORY J. H. BLOCK LECTURE

Prof. Jochen H. Block (1929-1995)

 

Early on July 23, 1995, Professor J.H. Block of the Fritz-Haber-Institut died suddenly and unexpectedly in his home in Berlin, shortly after having made final arrangements for attending the 42nd IFES. Professor Block was 66 years old. His scientific investigations of field emission and field ionization phenomena of surface layers have defined this field of study. They are so well known that little needs to be said about them here; his more than 280 publications provide permanent testimony to his versatility and insight. The contributions from his laboratory have been a mainstay of the annual field emission symposia during the last two decades. For many years, Prof. Block served on the steering committee, and from 1987 to 1990 as the president of IFES. He twice hosted field emission symposia in Berlin that are fondly remembered. His achievements in science have also been recognized by an honorary doctorate from Clarkson University, and in 1992 by his election as a foreign member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of the Russian Federation. Jochen Block was born in 1929 in Stettin, then part of Prussia, and in his steadfastness, his belief in hard work and his willingness to assume responsibility, he always remained true to his origins. Shortly after the war, he entered Ernst-Moritz-Amdt University in Greifswald (DDR), where he earned his diploma in chemistry in 1951. While in Greifswald, he came to the attention of G.-M. Schwab, the world's expert on catalytic processes who was then professor at the University of Munich. After escaping East Germany on foot, Jochen Block made his way to Munich, where he worked in Prof. Schwab's laboratory. He was awarded his doctorate in 1954 for studies on the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide on semiconducting oxides. He completed his habilitation in physical chemistry at Munich, but in 1960 took the fateful step of moving to European Research Associates in Brussels as a group leader. In the very stimulating environment in Brussels he recognized that progress in understanding catalytic problems would only come through the application of new techniques, and therefore built up a capability for field ionization mass spectroscopy to investigate surface reactions. It is upon this foundation that much of his later work was built. From 1964 to 1966 Dr. Block was seconded to the Union Carbon and Carbide labs in Charleston, West Virginia. There he became acquainted with practical catalytic problems, and his family with the American lifestyle. Upon returning to Europe, Dr. Block joined the Fritz-Haber-Institut of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Berlin, and organized a group specializing in high field studies of interfacial reactions. He became a scientific

member of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in 1969, and a director at the institute in 1974. The first focus of his scientific life was, of course, catalysis, and through the years this remained a significant part of his work. During the last decade, Prof. Block became interested in oscillatory chemical reactions at surfaces. With great enthusiasm he concentrated considerable effort on such phenomena, generating very interesting and important results. Prof. Block was elected vice-president of the International Catalysis Society in 1988, and became president-elect in 1992. Important though his scientific accomplishments have been, there is another aspect of his life's work that has had and will continue to have a significant impact. Early in his career, Prof. Block had the opportunity to work in very different laboratories, in different countries and different environments. He recognized the importance of international interactions, and later in his life lectured enthusiastically all over the globe, from Atlanta, Georgia, to Tbilisik, Georgia, from England to China. His laboratories in Berlin became a center where scientists from all over the world not only visited but had a chance to meet and work. The warm hospitality of his home, and his deep concern for each visitor, are legendary and left their mark on many of us. Prof. Block will be missed by IFES, and by the larger world of science. He will be remembered not only as a scientist, but equally as a warm and caring friend.

Prof. G. Ehrlich University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL

 

Since 2010, the International Field Emission Society has decided to give a special tribute to young but well established scientists who have brought a new and important contribution to the field.

The list of awarded scientists is presented below

Year                                       Speaker                                              

1998                                       Zlatko Knor

2000                                       Norbert Kruse

2001                                       Anton G. Naumovets

2002                                       Jurgen Kreuzer

2004                                       Wolfgang Drachsel

2006                                       Osamu Nishikawa

2008                                       Yuri Suchorski

2010                                       Thierry Visart De Bocarme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

2012                                       Angela Vella, Université de Rouen

2014                                       Peter Hommelhoff, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

2016                                       Paul Bagot, University of Oxford