The Lars Onsager Lecture and Professorship

Lars Onsager (1903–1976)

Lars Onsager, Nobel laureate in chemistry 1935Norwegian-American chemist and physicist. Born in Oslo, Ch.E. degree from Norges Tekniske Høiskole, Trondheim, in 1925. Emigrated to the USA in 1928 and became an American citizen in 1945. J. Willard Gibbs Professor at Yale University. Received the 1968 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work done in 1931 on irreversible thermodynamics. (Biographical note).

Lars Onsager in Wikipedia

The Lars Onsager Lecture and the Lars Onsager Professorship are awarded by the Onsager committee.

Present Onsager Lecturer – Stefan Hell

The Lars Onsager Lecturer 2016 is Prof. Stefan Hell from Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany. Prof. Hell received both the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Kavli Prize in nanoscience in 2014.

Prof. Hell's Onsager Lecture will be presented on November 2, 2016, at 11:15 in EL3. (This event has been cancelled. New date: January 19, 2017.)

Abstract: Throughout the 20th century it was widely accepted that a light microscope relying on conventional optical lenses cannot discern details that are much finer than about half the wavelength of light (200-400 nm), due to diffraction. However, in the 1990s, the viability to overcome the diffraction barrier was realized and microscopy concepts defined, that can resolve fluorescent features down to molecular dimensions. In this lecture, I will discuss the simple yet powerful principles that allow neutralizing the limiting role of diffraction1,2. In a nutshell, feature molecules residing closer than the diffraction barrier are transferred to different (quantum) states, usually a bright fluorescent state and a dark state, so that they become discernible for a brief period of detection. Thus, the resolution-limiting role of diffraction is overcome, and the interior of transparent samples, such as living cells and tissues, can be imaged at the nanoscale.

1 Hell, S.W. Far-Field Optical Nanoscopy. Science 316, 1153-1158 (2007).
2 Hell, S.W. Microscopy and its focal switch. Nature Methods 6, 24-32 (2009).

For further information, please contact Prof. Helge Holden

Previous lecturers.

Present Onsager Professor – Jan Vermant

The Lars Onsager Professorship for 2016 has been awarded to Professor
Jan Vermant, ETH Zürich. Switzerland.

For further information, please contact Prof. Johan Sjöblom or Prof. Helge Holden.

Previous professors


The Lars Onsager archive

Thanks to the generosity of Lars Onsager's sons and daughter, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has established a Lars Onsager archive located at NTNU Library/Gunnerus Library in Trondheim.

A substantial part of the archive has now been made freely available in digital form.

Biographical Material

A general reference to the scientific works of Lars Onsager is:

(Boken fins også på norsk "Norske nobelprisvinnere", (Olav Njølstad, red.) Universitetsforlaget, 2005).

The Onsager Lecturer and the Onsager Professor receive the Onsager medal.

Onsager medal: Obverse

Onsager medal: Reverse

Artist: Harald Wårvik, minted by Den kongelige mynt, Kongsberg