Hans Frauenfelder

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Hans Frauenfelder
Hans Frauenfelder.jpg
Born June 28, 1922 (1922-06-28) (age 96)
Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Residence United States
Citizenship American
Alma mater Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Known for Perturbed angular correlation
protein folding and dynamics
Awards Max Delbruck Prize (1992)
Scientific career
Fields Physicist
Institutions Los Alamos National Laboratory
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Doctoral advisor Paul Scherrer
Other academic advisors Gregor Wentzel
Wolfgang Pauli

Hans Frauenfelder (born June 28, 1922) is a physicist and biophysicist notable for his discovery of perturbed angular correlation (PAC) in 1951. In the modern day, PAC spectroscopy is widely used in the study of condensed matter physics. Within biophysics, he is known for experiment and theory in understanding the dynamical behavior of protein tertiary structure.


Frauenfelder received his Dr. sc. nat. in physics in 1950 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich under Paul Scherrer, his thesis being on the study of radioactive surfaces. At ETH, he was also taught by Gregor Wentzel and Wolfgang Pauli. Through Pauli, he also got to know many of the leading scientists such as Hendrik Kramers, Werner Heisenberg, Hans Jensen, and Wolfgang Paul.


Frauenfelder migrated to the United States in 1952, joining the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a research associate. He stayed at the UIUC till 1992, ultimately as Center for Advanced Study Professor of Physics, Chemistry, and Biophysics.

His research interests included nuclear physics, particle physics, conservation laws, the Mössbauer effect, and the biophysics of protein folding and motions.

In 1992, Frauenfelder moved to the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he directed the Center for Nonlinear Studies (CNLS) until 1997. In 1997, he left CNLS and joined the theoretical biology and biophysics group at Los Alamos (T-10 recently renamed T-6) and continues research in biophysics.

Hans Frauenfelder is the inventor of the "Frauenfelder Rules", which provide a guideline about the most successful way to run a seminar at a research workshop, according to which a presentation should take up no more than 66% of the allotted time, the rest being used for questions and in-depth discussion.


Frauenfelder is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


  • Thomas G. Ebrey, Hans Frauenfelder, Barry Honig, and Koji Nakanishi Biophysical Studies, University of Illinois Press (1988) ISBN 0-252-01528-2
  • Hans Frauenfelder, The Mössbauer Effect, W. A. Benjamin, Inc. (1962) ASIN B000Q7QEBG
  • Hans Frauenfelder and Ernest M. Henley, Subatomic Physics, Benjamin Cummings (1991) ISBN 0-13-859430-9

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