Professor Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo receives Leibniz Prize

Laudator: “Your research makes space shine brighter”

2022/05/13 by

Professor Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo was awarded a Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) on 13 May 2022, which comes with prize money of 2.5 million euros. The award is the most important and most highly endowed German research prize. Martínez-Pinedo received the prize for his outstanding work in the realm where astro-, nuclear and neutrino physics meet. He researches and teaches at the Institute for Nuclear Physics at TU Darmstadt and at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt.

Professor Martínez-Pinedo with DFG president Katja Becker

DFG President Professor Katja Becker said that Martínez-Pinedo's research had heralded a paradigm shift in the discourse on the origins of the heavy elements. She added that his results were also exemplary because they represented a groundbreaking example of multidisciplinary cooperation between nuclear and particle physics as well as astronomy and astrophysics. “Dear Mr Martínez-Pinedo, your research makes space shine brighter,” said Becker in her laudation.

In addition to Martínez-Pinedo, four other scientists and five female scientists were honoured with the Leibniz Prize. The award ceremony took place in front of invited guests at the LVR-LandesMuseum in Bonn and was broadcast live. The DFG had announced the ten prize winners in December 2021.

Video portrait

Video portrait of Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo on the occasion of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) 2022

Physicist Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo's work has helped solve one of the biggest unsolved problems in physics in the 21st century: Where does nature produce heavy elements, such as the precious metals gold or platinum? Together with scientists from the USA, Martínez-Pinedo showed that these elements are created when neutron stars merge and that this process produces a unique electromagnetic signal, a light curve, for which Martínez-Pinedo and colleagues coined the term “kilonova”. In 2017, such a kilonova was observed for the first time, simultaneously by the “messengers” of light and gravitational waves. This scientific milestone, in which Martínez-Pinedo was involved, is considered the birth of multi-messenger astronomy, which opens up entirely new scientific possibilities.

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize has been awarded annually by the DFG since 1986 to researchers working in Germany in a wide range of disciplines. Up to ten prizes can be awarded each year, each with a prize sum of 2.5 million euros. This year's prizewinners were selected from 134 proposals by the responsible DFG committee. The prize money is intended, among other things, to expand the research opportunities of the award winners; the award winners can use it for their research work for up to seven years according to their own ideas and without bureaucratic effort.

Recommended external content

We have selected external content from Twitter for you and would like to show it to you right here. To do this, you must reveal it with one click. You can hide the external content at any time with another click.

I agree to external content from X being shown to me. This may result in personal data being transmitted to third-party platforms. You can find more information in our Privacy Policy.

The President of TU Darmstadt, Professor Tanja Brühl, had congratulated Martínez-Pinedo on the outstanding award when it was announced in December. “He has initiated a paradigm shift in research into the formation of heavy elements,” she said. “Research personalities like him strengthen the role of the Technische Universität Darmstadt and the GSI Helmholtz Centre, which together have become an internationally outstanding centre of nuclear astrophysics.”

Verleihung der Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Preise 2022 (recorded live stream)

The presentation of Prof. Gabriel Martínez-Pinedo starts at 1:16:00.