Joachim Sauer

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Joachim Sauer
Joachim Sauer Royal Society.jpg
Joachim Sauer at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2018
Born (1949-04-19) 19 April 1949 (age 71)
(m. 1998)
AwardsForeign Member of the Royal Society (2018)[1]
Scientific career
FieldsQuantum chemistry
InstitutionsHumboldt University of Berlin

Joachim Sauer (German pronunciation: [ˈjoːaxɪm ˈzaʊ̯ɐ]; born 19 April 1949) is a German quantum chemist and professor emeritus of physical and theoretical chemistry at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He is the husband of the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. He is one of the seven members of the board of trustees of the Friede Springer Foundation, together with former German president Horst Köhler and others.[2][3]

Education and early life[edit]

Sauer in 2009

Joachim Sauer was born in Hosena, a small town in the marshy Lusatian countryside between Dresden and Cottbus. He grew up with his twin sister and an elder brother. His father, Richard Sauer, had trained as a confectioner, but worked as an insurance representative. Sauer excelled at school and it quickly became clear that he had both the ability and the ambition to achieve more than this in his own life.[4][5]

Career and research[edit]

Sauer studied chemistry from 1967 to 1972 at the Humboldt University of Berlin and was awarded a doctorate in chemistry in 1974. He continued to do research there until 1977, when he joined the Academy of Sciences, Central Institute of Physical Chemistry in Berlin, one of the leading scientific institutes of the former GDR (East Germany).

For a brief time during and after the German reunification (1990–1991) he was the deputy technical director (catalysis and sorption) for BIOSYM Technologies, San Diego/USA (now BIOVIA). He remained an advisor for BIOSYM until 2002.

In 1992, he joined the Max Planck Society as head of the Quantum Chemistry Group in Berlin. In 1993, he became full professor of physical and theoretical chemistry at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He retired from his chair in October 2017 and was succeeded by Martin Schütz, who died the following year. Sauer remains affiliated with the university as a senior research fellow.[6]

He is an active research scientist in quantum chemistry and computational chemistry. His computational studies have allowed for a better understanding of the structures and activities of some catalysts such as zeolites, specifically their acid sites,[7] as well as the interpretation of solid state NMR spectra of nucleus Si-29, and quadrupolar nuclei such as Na-23,[8] Al-27 and O-17.[9][10]

Awards and honours[edit]

Personal life[edit]

From his previous marriage to a fellow chemist, Sauer has two sons, Daniel and Adrian. On 30 December 1998, he married Angela Merkel (herself a doctor of physics who had once worked in quantum chemistry research), who later became chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union and on 22 November 2005, the first female Chancellor of Germany.

Sauer (right) with Angela Merkel, George W. Bush and Laura Bush

Because of his wife's political career, Sauer has received far more media attention than is usual for a research scientist. On several occasions he has stated that he is not fond of this publicity.

During the 2005 election campaign Joachim Sauer kept a very low profile, declining to give any interviews not related to his scientific work. He attended the Bayreuth Festival, an opera festival and a highly visible social event in Germany, with his wife.[13] Sauer is known as a great lover of Wagner's music.

Even during his wife's election in the Bundestag, her inauguration, and later her taking the oath of office, Sauer was not present but reportedly briefly followed the event on TV from his university chemistry lab.[14]


  1. ^ a b "Joachim Sauer - Royal Society".
  2. ^ "Friede Springer Stiftung".
  3. ^ Sauer, Prof Dr Joachim. "Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Joachim Sauer — Quantenchemie der Festkörper/ Katalyse".
  4. ^ Marc Hujer (2 January 2006). "Das Phantom". Joachim Sauer ist der erste Kanzleringatte Deutschlands. In seinem Leben hat er sich immer Unabhängigkeit bewahrt, jetzt aber soll er eine Rolle spielen, die andere für ihn ausgesucht haben. Doch er wehrt sich gegen die Gesetze der modernen Mediendemokratie. Vol. 01/2006. Der Spiegel (online). Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Kurzbiografie ... Zur Person von Joachim Sauer". BUNTE Entertainment Verlag GmbH, München. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  6. ^ Meißner, Juliane; Harmsen, Torsten (23 December 2017). "Interview mit Joachim Sauer: Nobelpreise sind nicht alles". Berliner Zeitung.
  7. ^ Sauer, J, Haase, F (5 Apr 1995). "Interaction of Methanol With Bronsted Acid Sites Of Zeolite Catalysts - An Ab-Initio Study". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 117 (13): 3780–3789. doi:10.1021/Ja00118A014.
  8. ^ Koller, H.; Engelhardt, G.; Kentgens, A.P.M.; Sauer, J. (1994). "Na-23 Nmr-Spectroscopy of Solids - Interpretation of Quadrupole Interaction Parameters and Chemical-Shifts". Journal of Physical Chemistry. 98 (6): 1544–1551. doi:10.1021/j100057a004.
  9. ^ Bull Lucy, M., Dupree, R.; Cheetham, AK; Anupold, T; Reinhold, A; Samoson, A; Sauer, J; Bussemer, B; Lee, Y; Gann, S; Shore, J; Pines, A (1998). "A high-resolution(17)O NMR study of siliceous zeolite faujasite". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 120 (14): 3510–3511. doi:10.1021/ja9743001.
  10. ^ Bull, Lucy M, Dupree, R; Bussemer, B; Anupold, T; Reinhold, A; Samoson, A; Sauer, J; Cheetham, AK (2000). "A high-resolution O-17 and Si-29 NMR study of zeolite siliceous ferrierite and ab initio calculations of NMR parameters". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 122 (20): 4948–4958. doi:10.1021/ja993339y.
  11. ^ "List of Honorary Graduates". 2019-01-30.
  12. ^ "WATOC - Schroedinger". Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  13. ^ Crossland, David (2005-11-22). "Merkel's Phantom of the Opera". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2009-04-04.
  14. ^ Whitlock, Craig (2007-06-08). "The Professor's Quantum Leap". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-04-04.