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Prof. Dr.

Stefan Hell

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014

Year of election: 2013
Section: Physics
City: Göttingen
Country: Germany
CV Stefan Hell - English (PDF)
CV Stefan Hell - German (PDF)


Research Priorities: optical microscopy beyond Abbe's diffraction limit

Stefan Hell is a German physicist. He has developed the first microscopic method that allows for resolutions far below the wavelength of light to be achieved with focused light. In 2014, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Eric Betzig and William E. Moerner “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”.

His discovery is of great relevance for biomedical research because light microscopy is the only known method for capturing molecules' spatial organisation and dynamics in a living cell and tissue. Stefan Hell describes his goal as “making the finest details visible down to the molecular scale”.

Stefan Hell worked at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg and at the University of Turku in Finland on the question of achieving light microscopic resolutions in the nanometre range. Previously, it was assumed that the resolution of these microscopes was limited to half the wavelength of light (200 to 400 nanometres). Similar objects that were closer together can no longer be distinguished in the image. With the development of so-called “Stimulated Emission Depletion”, or STED microscopy for short, Hell refuted this assumption.


  • since 2004 Honorary Professor of experimental physics, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • since 2003 Head, Department of Optical Nanoscopy, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ),
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • since 2003 Honorary Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • since 2002 Scientific Member, Director, and Leader, Department of NanoBiophotonics, Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences (formerly MPI for Biophysical Chemistry), Göttingen, Germany
  • 1997-2002 Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany
  • 1996 Habilitation in physics, Heidelberg University (extern), Heidelberg, Germany
  • 1993-1996 Principal Scientist, Department of Medical Physics, University of Turku (UTU), Turku, Finland
  • 1993-1994 Visiting Scientist, Scanning Optical Microscopy Group, Department Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 1991-1993 Postdoctoral Researcher, Light Microscopy Group, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg, Germany
  • 1990 Freelance Inventor
  • 1990 Doctorate in Physics, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 1981-1987 Study of Physics, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany


  • since 2020 Member, Senate, Max Planck Society (MPG), Munich, Germany
  • since 2009 Speaker, Research Center Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CMPB), German Research Foundation (DFG), Germany
  • since 2007 Member, Board of Trustees, Experimental Laboratory for Young People (X-LAB), Göttingen, Germany
  • since 2007 Member, Bord of Trustees, Stiftung Zukunfts- und Innovationsfonds Niedersachsen, Hanover, Germany
  • since 2005 Secretary, International Society on Optics Within Life Sciences (OWLS)
  • since 2003 Associated Member, European Neuroscience Institute (ENI), Göttingen, Germany
  • since 2003 Member, Board of Directors, Laser Laboratorium Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • since 2002 Sientific Member, Biomedical-Chemical-Physical-Technical Section, MPG, Munich, Germany

Honours and Memberships

  • 2022 Werner von Siemens Ring
  • 2019 Member, Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), Vatican City
  • 2019 Honorary Member, International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS)    
  • 2016 Member, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany
  • 2016 Markgräfler Gutedelpreis, Markgräfler Gutedelgesellschaft, Müllheim, Germany
  • 2016 Wilhelm Exner Medal, Wilhelm Exner Foundation of the Austrian Trade Association, Vienna, Austria
  • 2016 Member, acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering, Germany
  • 2016 Semmelweis Budapest Award, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2015 Order of Merit, State of Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 2015 Glenn T. Seaborg Medal, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA
  • 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with Eric Betzig and William E. Moerner), Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA), Sweden
  • 2014 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience (shared with Thomas W. Ebbesen and Sir John B. Pendry), Kavli Foundation, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2014 Carus Prize, City of Schweinfurt, Germany
  • 2013 Carus Medal, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany
  • 2013 Honorary Doctorate, University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest (UPB), Bucharest, Romania
  • 2012 Honorary Member, The Romanian Academy, Romania
  • 2012 Science Prize, Fritz Behrens Foundation, Hanover, Germany
  • 2011 Honorary Doctorate, Western University “Vasile Goldiş” (UVVG), Arad, Romania
  • 2011 Meyenburg-Preis, Wilhelm und Maria Meyenburg-Stiftung, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2011 Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award, Fysicum, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 2011 Körber European Science Prize, Körber Foundation, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2011 Hansen Family Award, Bayer Foundation, Leverkusen, Germany
  • 2010 Ernst Hellmut Vits Preis, Universitätsgesellschaft Münster, Germany
  • 2009 Corresponding Member, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften (HAdW), Germany
  • 2009 Otto Hahn Prize for Physics, Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh), Germany
  • 2009 Honorary Doctorate, UTU, Turku, Finland
  • 2008 State Award, State of Lower Saxony, Germany
  • 2008 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, DFG, Germany
  • 2007 Member, Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany
  • 2007 Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics, Springer Publishing Journal “Applied Physics A and B”, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2007 Cozzarelli-Preis, Journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science”, Washington D.C., USA
  • 2006 Deutscher Zukunftspreis, The Federal President's Award for Technology and Innovation, Germany
  • 2004 Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz Prize, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany
  • 2002 Karl Heinz Beckurts-Preis, Karl Heinz Beckurts Stiftung, Zeuthen, Germany
  • 2002 Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis, Co-Recipient Third Prize, Berthold Leibinger Stiftung, Ditzingen, Germany
  • 2001 Helmholtz Prize, Co-Recipient, Helmholtz Fonds, Braunschweig, Germany
  • 2000 ICO Prize, International Commission for Optics (ICO), Palaiseau, France




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