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Prof. Dr. Wolfram Sander

Prof. Dr. Wolfram Sander

Foto by Damian Gorczany


Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Wolfram Sander

* 22.10.1954, German

Lehrstuhl für Organische Chemie II, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum


2002 Offer of a Chair of Organic Chemistry, Philipps-Universität Marburg, declined
since 1993 Full Professor and Chair of Organic Chemistry, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
1990 - 1993 Associate Prfessor of Organic Chemistry, TU Braunschweig
1995 - 1990 Research Fellow, Institute of Organic Chemistry, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
1982 - 1984 Post-Doctoral Researcher, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles


1989 Habilitation in Organic Chemistry, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
1982 Dr. rer. nat., Institute of Organic Chemistry, Ruprecht-Karsl-Universität Heidelberg
1978 Diploma in Chemistry, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


2017 Orville Chapman Lecture, UCLA
2007 Adolf-von-Baeyer Gold Medal of the German Chemicl Sociaty (GDCh)
1990 Award of a Karl-Winnacker Scholarship (Hoechst AG)
1989 Award of a Heisenberg Scholarship of the German Research Foundation (DFG)
1988 Karl Freudenberg Prize of the Academy of Science, Heidelberg
1982 Award of a Fedoy-Lynen Scholarship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
1978 Viktor-Meyer Award of the Faculty of Chemistry, Ruprecht-Karsl-Universität Heidelberg


since 2015 Associate Editor of the Journal of Organic Chemistry
since 2012 Founding member and member of the executive board of RESOLV, Cluster of Excellence funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
2012 - 2014 Chairman, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
2006 - 2009 Member of the Advisory Board of the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry
since 2005 Member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry
2001 - 2009 Chair of DECHEMA (German Association of Chemical Engeneers) committee "Kinetics and Reaction Mechanisms"
2000 - 2009 Member of the Supervisory Board of the Beilstein Institute of the Advancement of Science
1998 - 2008 Member of the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Organic Chemistry
1997 - 2001 Member of the Wiley-VCh Advisory Board
1995 - 1997 Chairman, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


High-Spin Molecules

Organic high-spin molecules such as polyradicals, polycarbenes, or polynitrenes can be utilized as building blocks for organic magnets. In our laboratory, molecules with six and more unpaired electrons (e. g.trinitrenes) were synthesized and characterized by matrix isolation IR, EPR, and UV-vis spectroscopy. By combining σ- and π-radical centers we synthesize challenging molecules with unusual spin topologies.

Solvent Control of Reactivity

Interactions of reactive intermediates and transition states with solvent molecules determine reactivity and product selectivity, in particular if charge separation is involved. Our group studies solvent interactions of open-shell molecules both by low-temperature and by time-resolved spectroscopy. We could demonstrate that single solvent molecules are able to switch the spin states of carbenes, and thus drastically change their reactivity. This work changed established paradigms on carbene reactivity.

Magnetic Bistability

The coexistence of molecules in different spin states is a largely unexplored phenomenon, contradicting common scientific expectation of rapid intersystem crossing between spin states. Using low-temperature techniques, we isolated carbenes which coexist in their singlet and triplet states. Our work allowed us to establish spin bistability as a general phenomenon, only depending on the singlet-triplet gap of carbenes. This gives us the unique opportunity not only to spectroscopically characterize the same carbene in its different spin states, but also to explore spin-specific reactions in detail.

Tunneling Reactions

Quantum mechanical tunneling (QMT) has been recognized as an important process contributing to chemical reactions. We discovered several reactions where heavier atoms such as carbon undergo QMT, and we study how QMT determines the rates as well as the product selectivities at low temperatures. Examples for tunneling reactions are ring-openings of strained cyclic compounds, insertions of carbenes into the OH bond, activation of dihydrogen, and the Cope rearrangement.

Reactive Intermediates

Much of our research is centered around reactive intermediates which we study using a variety of low-temperature and time-resolved techniques. Besides open-shell molecules, we investigate highly strained and antiaromatic molecules. The focus of our research lies on the reactivity of molecules which are difficult to access experimentally. Reactions include rearrangements, oxidations, hydrogenations, hydrogen- and halogen-bonding, proton and electron transfer, and others.


head of department

    Prof. Dr. Wolfram Sander


    Ruhr-Universität Bochum
    Lehrstuhl für Organische Chemie II
    NC 4/171

    Universitätsstraße 150
    44801 Bochum

    Tel.: +49 234 32 24593
    Fax: +49 234 32 14353

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