Theodor Förster: A giant of modern photochemistry




May 15th, 1910 - May 20th 1974



Ph.D. (with Erwin Madelung) University of Frankfurt am Main
o. Professor, the State University of Poznan
Arrival in Niedernjesa, Kr. Göttingen (old school)
First Publication on FRET (now 65 years) Energy transport and fluorescence [in German] Naturwissenschaften 33:166-175.
Max-Planck-Institute for physical chemistry, Göttingen, leader of the department for "structure research".
Most cited work on FRET (4311 citations until 18.3.2011) Zwischenmolekulare Energiewanderung und Fluoreszenz [in German] Annalen der Physik 437(2): 55-75.
Full Professor, Technical University Stuttgart
External scientific member of the Max-Planck-Institute for physical chemistry


Three main research fields (77 Publications from 1933 to 1975)

  1. Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET),
  2. the Förster cycle, linking protolysis and reprotonation of molecules in the excited state,
  3. excimer formation by association of an excited with an electronic-ground-state molecule.



  1. Albert Weller, Nachruf auf Theodor Förster, Berichte der Bunsengesellschaft für Physikalische Chemie 1974, 78(10): 969-971 [German].
  2. Albert Weller, In Memoriam Theodor Förster, EPA Newsletter 1980, 9(April): 6-19 [English].
  3. a) Horst E.A. Kramer and Peter Fischer, The Scientific Work of Theodor Förster: A Brief Sketch of his live and Personality, ChemPhysChem 2011, 12: 555-558
    b) Special Issue: Förster Resonance Energy Transfer, ChemPhysChem 2011, 12(3), 421-719