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Professor Hans Wolfgang Spiess joined the Max Planck Society in 1984 as one of the directors of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research.

He received his doctoral degree in physical chemistry in 1968 from the University of Frankfurt with Prof. H. Hartmann. After a postdoctoral stay at Florida State University (Prof. R.K. Sheline) he returned to Germany in 1970 joining the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Department of Molecular Physics in Heidelberg, headed by Prof. K.H. Hausser. There he became acquainted with novel techniques of high resolution solid state NMR as well as the use of various NMR methods for studying molecular motions in liquids and solids. This was also the topic of his Habilitation in physical chemistry (1978) at the University of Mainz where he worked as a staff scientist from 1975 at the Institute of Physical Chemistry in the group of Prof. H. Sillescu. In Mainz he changed his research interests to the study of molecular order and dynamics in polymers by solid state NMR and in particular developed various pulsed deuteron NMR techniques that opened up new possibilities in this area. From 1981 to 1982 he held a professorship of physical chemistry at the University of Münster and in 1983 accepted a chair of macromolecular chemistry at the University of Bayreuth.
Prof. Spiess served as the chairman of the European Polymer Federation (1991-92) and as the chairman of the Capital Investment Committee of the German Science Foundation (DFG) (1994-96). From 1997 till 2006 he was the chairman of the Committee for Electronic Data Processing of the MPG, 2000-2006 he served as President of the Groupement AMPERE and 1999-2005 he was a Member of the Scientific Council of the Federal Republic of Germany. Honorary lectureships he delivered include the Washburn Lecture, University of Nebraska, USA (1995), Barrè Lectures, University of Montreal, Canada (1996), Kolthoff Lectures, University of Minnesota, USA (1998), University of California, Berkeley (2000). He is doctor honoris causa of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania (1997), the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland (1998) and Honorary Professor of the East China Normal University, Shanghai, China (2007). In 1987 he received the Leibniz-Prize of the DFG and in 2000 the Eastern Analytical Symposium NMR Award, USA. In 2002 he was honored by the AMPERE Prize, the Liebig-Medal of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) and the Presidential Medal of Cornell University, USA. He received the Award of the Society of Polymer Science, Japan in 2003, the Walther Nernst Medal of the Bunsengesellschaft Physikalische Chemie in 2005 and the Paul J. Flory Research Prize at the IUPAC-POLYCHAR conference in 2010.
His current research interests concentrate on the development of magnetic resonance techniques for elucidating structure, dynamics, phase behavior and order in synthetic macromolecules and supramolecular systems. He applies these as well as other spectroscopic methods to study new polymer materials in order to relate their microscopic and macroscopic behavior.
Examples are:
-Two-and three-dimensional NMR methods for studying molecular dynamics
-High-resolution multiple quantum NMR spectroscopy of solids for studying molecular structure and organization
-Spin diffusion techniques for determining the phase behavior and compatibility in block copolymers, polymer blends, and core shell particles
-NMR imaging and hyperpolarization by laser polarization, dynamic nuclear polarization and parahydrogen
-The investigation of polyelectrolytes in solution using a broad variety of EPR-spectroscopic methods
-Chain motion and its relation to mechanical properties in crystalline and amorphous polymers, dynamics at the glass transition

The following staff scientists interact closely with Prof. Spiess:
Dr. G. Brunklaus (Multiple Quantum Spectroscopy), Dr. R. Graf (NMR Methods and Polymer Dynamics), Dr. M. R. Hansen (Supramolecular Systems), Dr. D. Hinderberger (EPR Spectroscopy and Non-covalent Interactions in Soft Matter), Dr. V. Macho (Computer Department), Dr. K. Münnemann (NMR Imaging and Hyperpolarization), Dr. A. Del Campo (Organic and Polymer Chemistry).

Collaborations with former members of the group include:
Prof. Dr. A. Heuer (Conformational Order and Disorder, Polymer Melt Dynamics)
Prof. Dr. U. Wiesner (Block Copolymers, Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Materials)
Prof. Dr. K. Schmidt-Rohr (Polymer Conformations, Multidimensional MAS Exchange NMR)
Prof. Dr. G. Jeschke (EPR Spectroscopy)
Prof. Dr. M. Wilhelm (Fourier-Transform Rheology and Polymer Characterization)
Dr. D. Sebastiani (ab Initio Molecular Dynamics, ab Initio Calculation of NMR Shifts)