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Bretislav Friedrich (born 29 May 1953) is a Research Group leader at the Department of Molecular Physics, Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and Honorarprofessor at the Technische Universität in Berlin, Germany. He is globally recognized for his pioneering research surrounding interaction of molecules with and in electric, magnetic, and optical fields as well as on cold molecules.[1] He was admitted to the Learned Society of the Czech Republic in 2011.

Bretislav Friedrich
Bretislav Friedrich-image.jpg
Born (1953-05-29) 29 May 1953 (age 66)
NationalityUnited States
Known forManipulation of molecules with electromagnetic fields
Cold Molecules
History of Science
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular Physics
InstitutionsJ. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry
University of Utah
Max-Planck-Institut für Strömungsforschung
Harvard University
Technical University of Berlin
Fritz Haber Institute of the MPG
Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Doctoral advisorV. Cermak and Z. Herman



Bretislav Friedrich was born in Prague, Czech Republic on 29 May 1953.[2] He graduated, in 1976, in physical chemistry from Charles University in Prague, with a diploma thesis on deviations of dilute macro-molecular solutions in mixed solvents from the ideal behavior.[3] Subsequently, he changed fields to study ion-molecule reactions in the gas phase and earned his Ph.D. degree from the J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences in 1981 for his work on ion scattering in crossed beams.[4]

Academic careerEdit

In 1981-82, he was a postdoc with Jean Futrell at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, where he studied vibrational Feshbach resonances in low-energy charge-transfer scattering[5] and other elementary collision process. He then returned to the J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry as a research scientist. In 1986-87, he was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in the department of Peter Toennies at the Max-Planck-Institut für Strömungsforschung in Göttingen, where he studied inelastic proton scattering by atoms and molecules.[6]

In 1987, Bretislav Friedrich joined Dudley Herschbach's group at Harvard University, at first as a research associate. During the following sixteen years at Harvard, he developed techniques to orient and align gas-phase molecules by exploiting the interactions between their permanent and induced dipole moments and external electric, magnetic, and optical fields.[7] Together with the group of John Doyle at Harvard Physics, he also pioneered the study of cold molecules, by helping to develop the buffer-gas cooling technique and its combination with magnetic trapping.[8] In 1997, he was appointed Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in Chemistry at Harvard University.

In 2003, he became a Research Group Leader at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, Germany, where he has been based ever since. His current research is chiefly theoretical (with a predilection for an analytic approach), but closely related to ongoing experiments. It revolves around interactions of molecules with and in fields and branches out into areas such as super-symmetric quantum mechanics,[9] quantum computing,[10] and spectroscopy of molecules in helium nano-droplets.

Personal lifeEdit

Bretislav Friedrich and his wife, Christine, née Storch, have three children, Juliane (b. 2007), Christian (b. 2008) and Jitka (b. 2010). His daughter Jana (b. 1982), from his marriage with Helena Friedrich (1955–2002), is a graphic-design artist, living in Prague.

History of ScienceEdit

Alongside his scientific research, Bretislav Friedrich has maintained an abiding interest in the History of Science and has written on the emergence of quantum mechanics[11][12] and of physical and theoretical chemistry[13][14] as well as penned numerous biographical articles.[15]


In 2015, Bretislav Friedrich co-organized an international symposium to mark the centenary of the infamous chlorine cloud attack at Ypres in 1915. The symposium examined key aspects of chemical warfare from the first research on and deployment of chemical weapons in World War I to the development and use of chemical warfare during the century hence. The focus was on scientific, ethical, legal, and political issues of chemical weapons research and deployment — including the issue of dual use — as well as the ongoing effort to control the possession of chemical weapons and to ultimately achieve their elimination. A proceedings volume[16] consisting of papers presented at the symposium and supplemented by additional articles covers key aspects of chemical warfare from 1915 until this day.

Literature on Bretislav FriedrichEdit

  • Kostlán, k vydání připravili Soňa Štrbáňová a Antonín (2011). One hundred Czech Scientists in Exile(Sto českých vědců v exilu) (Vyd. 1. ed.). Praha: Academia. pp. 254–257. ISBN 978-80-200-1915-8.
  • Josefovicova, Milena (2011). ""From the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences into Exile: Bretislav Friedrich" Part I of interview with Milena Josefovicova". History of Science and Technology. 43: 263–286. ISSN 0300-4414.
  • Josefovicova, Milena (2011). ""There is only one science" Part II of interview with Milena Josefovicova". History of Science and Technology. 43: 33–49. ISSN 0300-4414.
  • "Autobiography of Bretislav Friedrich". Molecular Physics. 111 (12–13): 1632–1642. 1 July 2013. Bibcode:2013MolPh.111.1632.. doi:10.1080/00268976.2013.792466. ISSN 0026-8976.
  • Friedrich, Bretislav (6 December 2017). "Bretislav Friedrich - The Exacting Task of Bringing Molecules to Attention •". doi:10.26320/SCIENTIA64.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Lemeshko, Mikhail; Krems, Roman V.; Doyle, John M.; Kais, Sabre (14 June 2013). "Manipulation of molecules with electromagnetic fields". Molecular Physics. 111 (12–13): 1648–1682. arXiv:1306.0912. Bibcode:2013MolPh.111.1648L. doi:10.1080/00268976.2013.813595.
  2. ^ "Autobiography of Bretislav Friedrich". Molecular Physics. 111 (12–13): 1632–1642. 1 July 2013. Bibcode:2013MolPh.111.1632.. doi:10.1080/00268976.2013.792466. ISSN 0026-8976.
  3. ^ Friedrich, B.; Procházka, K. (1979-01-01). "Dilute solution properties of anionic polystyrene in ternary mixture toluene-2-butanone-2-methyl-1-propanol". European Polymer Journal. 15 (9): 873–877. doi:10.1016/0014-3057(79)90189-7.
  4. ^ Freidrich, B.; Herman, Z. (August 1982). "Dynamics of ion—molecule processes: A crossed-beam study of the reaction B+(3P) + H2 → BH+ + H". Chemical Physics. 69 (3): 433–442. Bibcode:1982CP.....69..433F. doi:10.1016/0301-0104(82)88081-6.
  5. ^ Friedrich, B.; Trafton, W.; Rockwood, A.; Howard, S.; Futrell, J. H. (15 March 1984). "A crossed beam study of the charge‐transfer reaction of Ar with N at low and intermediate energies". The Journal of Chemical Physics. 80 (6): 2537–2542. Bibcode:1984JChPh..80.2537F. doi:10.1063/1.447047.
  6. ^ Friedrich, Bretislav; Niedner, Gereon; Noll, Martin; Toennies, J. Peter (November 1987). "Vibrationally resolved inelastic and charge transfer scattering of H+ by H2O". The Journal of Chemical Physics. 87 (9): 5256–5265. Bibcode:1987JChPh..87.5256F. doi:10.1063/1.453668.
  7. ^ Friedrich, Bretislav; Herschbach, Dudley (5 June 1995). "Alignment and Trapping of Molecules in Intense Laser Fields". Physical Review Letters. 74 (23): 4623–4626. Bibcode:1995PhRvL..74.4623F. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.74.4623.
  8. ^ Weinstein, Jonathan D.; deCarvalho, Robert; Guillet, Thierry; Friedrich, Bretislav; Doyle, John M. (10 September 1998). "Magnetic trapping of calcium monohydride molecules at millikelvin temperatures". Nature. 395 (6698): 148–150. Bibcode:1998Natur.395..148W. doi:10.1038/25949. ISSN 0028-0836.
  9. ^ Schmidt, Burkhard; Friedrich, Bretislav (13 February 2015). "Supersymmetry and eigensurface topology of the spherical quantum pendulum". Physical Review A. 91 (2): 022111. arXiv:1409.2225. Bibcode:2015PhRvA..91b2111S. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.91.022111.
  10. ^ Karra, Mallikarjun; Sharma, Ketan; Friedrich, Bretislav; Kais, Sabre; Herschbach, Dudley (7 March 2016). "Prospects for quantum computing with an array of ultracold polar paramagnetic molecules". The Journal of Chemical Physics. 144 (9): 094301. arXiv:1601.02409. Bibcode:2016JChPh.144i4301K. doi:10.1063/1.4942928. PMID 26957163.
  11. ^ Friedrich, Bretislav; Herschbach, Dudley (2003). "Stern and Gerlach: How a Bad Cigar Helped Reorient Atomic Physics". Physics Today. 56 (12): 53–59. Bibcode:2003PhT....56l..53F. doi:10.1063/1.1650229.
  12. ^ Badino, Massimiliano; Friedrich, Bretislav (1 September 2013). "Much Polyphony but Little Harmony: Otto Sackur's Groping for a Quantum Theory of Gases". Physics in Perspective. 15 (3): 295–319. Bibcode:2013PhP....15..295B. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/s00016-013-0110-8. ISSN 1422-6944.
  13. ^ James, Jeremiah; Steinhauser, Thomas; Hoffmann, Dieter; Friedrich, Bretislav (2011). One hundred years at the intersection of chemistry and physics : the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, 1911-2011. Berlin: De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-023953-9.
  14. ^ Friedrich, Bretislav (25 April 2016). "How Did the Tree of Knowledge Get Its Blossom? The Rise of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, with an Eye on Berlin and Leipzig". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 55 (18): 5378–5392. doi:10.1002/anie.201509260. PMC 5071687. PMID 27010426.
  15. ^ Bretislav, Friedrich (1 September 2016). "Michael Polanyi (1891-1976): The life of the mind". Bunsen-Magazin. 18 (5). ISSN 0005-9021.
  16. ^ Friedrich, B.; Hoffmann, D.; Renn, J.; Schmaltz, F.; Wolf, M. (2017). One Hundred Years of Chemical Warfare: Research, Deployment, Consequences. Springer. ISBN 9783319516639.