The German Bunsen Society for Physical Chemistry and the German Liquid Crystal Society mourn the death of Professor Dr. Horst Stegemeyer
, who passed away at the age of 91 years on 28 April 2023.
His research in the field of physical chemistry yielded numerous important new results, enabled many fundamental insights and was a source of inspiration for several generations of scientists. His outstanding contributions to liquid crystal research are extensive, covering areas such as ferroelectricity in chiral smectic liquid crystals, electrohydrodynamic instabilities in freely suspended liquid crystal films, lyotropic liquid crystals, and selective reflection in cholesteric liquid crystals and their modifications. He demonstrated for the first time the existence of three Blue Phases, when studying the reflection spectra of cholesteryl nonanoate, and he was among the first to grow single crystals of two of the blue phases. Professor Stegemeyer’s extraordinary contributions to physical chemistry and in particular to liquid crystal research was honoured by the Bunsen Medal in 2013, one of the most prestigious prizes of the German Bunsen Society for Physical Chemistry.
Horst Stegemeyer attended the Lutherschule in Hanover and later pursued a degree in chemistry from the Technical University of Hanover and the Technical University of Berlin, earning his diploma in 1958. He received his doctorate with distinction in 1961 under Rudolf Suhrmann's guidance. He worked as an assistant to Georg Richard Schultze at the Department of Petroleum Chemistry before becoming a senior assistant to Ernst Lippert at the Iwan Stranski Institute for Physical Chemistry at the TU Berlin. Horst Stegemeyer specialised in low-temperature luminescence and obtained his habilitation in 1967. In 1969, he started his career in liquid crystal research as a scientific counsellor and professor at the TU Berlin. He also served as a visiting professor at the Weizmann Institute in 1972 and became a full professor of physical chemistry at the newly founded University of Paderborn in 1974, where he remained until his retirement in 1996.
Professor Stegemeyer has very actively promoted the liquid crystal community for many years, and has held several important positions in various professional societies. He has been a member of the German Bunsen Society for Physical Chemistry since 1957, and served on its Standing Committee from 1983 to 1986. Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors of the International Liquid Crystal Society from 1984 to 1995. Professor Stegemeyer co-founded the German Liquid Crystal Society (DFKG), which he chaired from 1996 to 2000. Due to his outstanding services to the DFKG, he was elected to be an Honorary Member of the German Liquid Crystal Society.
Through his books and an exhibition on the history of liquid crystals at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, he promoted the understanding of liquid crystal research and the history of its development. His work allows us to witness the evolution of this field of research and gain valuable insights into its past and into science in general.
We will always honour his memory and express our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
The German Liquid Crystal Society obituary can be found here