Obituary: Helmut Kronmüller

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Prof. Dr. Helmut Kronmüller passed away on June 30, 2023, at the age of 91. He was director of the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research and emeritus scientific member of the successor institute Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. His scientific commitment and passion were in metals research and especially in magnetism. He has served on numerous national and international advisory boards and is the author and editor of a large number of relevant books and publications. For his achievements, he received several awards and honours.

Helmut Kronmüller

* 1931 † 30 June 2023

Helmut Kronmüller was an outstanding research personality in the magnetism community and a much appreciated mentor and lecturer. He was primarily dedicated to the comprehensive general topic related to the interactions between the microstructure of metallic/magnetic materials and their physical properties. His successful research activities were founded on two pillars: (1) The research questions were addressed by him and his co-workers with a very large scope. The complete range from scientific fundamentals in theory and experiment to application-oriented work was addressed, which sparked the development of new experimental techniques and new theoretical simulation methods in his department. This brought new important and very valuable insights into the understanding of materials and led his work ahead of other groups. (2) He established life-long connections and collaborations with scientific friends, former guests and students which led to very prosperous research activities in many fields. The best known is maybe his legendary Kronmüller plot, which is still used internationally today to analyze microstructure-property correlations of magnetic materials.

Helmut Kronmüller was born in Schwaikheim (Germany) in 1931 and studied physics and mathematics at the Technical University of Stuttgart. He graduated as a physicist in 1956. After receiving his PhD from the Institute for Theoretical and Applied Physics at the University of Stuttgart in 1958, he worked as a research associate at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Metals Research. He habilitated in physics at the University of Stuttgart in 1968. For his habilitation thesis "Nachwirkung in Ferromagnetika" (Aftereffects in Ferromagnets), published as a book by Springer-Verlag, he was awarded the Physics Prize of the German Physical Society (DPG) in 1968. In 1970 he was appointed Scientific Member of the MPI for Metals Research. In 1974 he became a professor at the University of Stuttgart and in 1987 director at the MPI for Metals Research. In 1992, he was awarded the Heyn Memorial Medal of the German Society for Materials Science (DGM) for his contributions to the development of metal physics in the field of magnetic and superconducting high-performance materials. From 1992 to 1995 he was Managing Director of the MPI for Metals Research. He was awarded emeritus status in November 1999 but continued to be scientifically active as an emeritus scientific member of the successor institute MPI for Intelligent Systems until shortly before his death.

In addition to his research and teaching activities, Professor Kronmüller has been extensively involved in national and international committees over many decades: He was chairman of the Magnetism Working Group from 1995 to 2000 and head of the Magnetism Section of the German Physical Society (DPG) from 1993 to 2001. He belonged to a number of international committees. Among others, he was a fellow of the States Research Centre for Magnetic Materials and Technology Beijing and Chairman of the European Advisory Board of the Instituto de Magnetismo Aplicado, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The IEEE Magnetics Society appointed him Distinguished Lecturer in 1999. Within the framework of several BRITE-EURAM programs, he has contributed significantly to advancing cooperation in the field of high-performance magnetic materials within the European Union.

He is the author/co-author of approximately 1.000 publications, many of which are widely cited. Important books/handbooks are H. Kronmüller, M. Fähnle "Micromagnetism and the Microstructure of Ferromagnetic Solids" (published 2003, Cambridge University Press) and H. Kronmüller, S. Parkin (eds.) "Handbook of Magnetism and Advanced Magnetic Materials" (5 vols., published 2007, Wiley).

Prof. Kronmüller was also able to convey his commitment and passion for metals research and especially for magnetism to young scientists in an outstanding manner via subject-specific lectures and supervision of diploma and PhD theses. He has supervised more than 120 PhD theses as principal investigator. Numerous members of his staff have obtained leading positions in industry or have completed their habilitation and received appointments at universities.

The magnetism community misses the scientist and person Helmut Kronmüller sorely and will always honour his memory and activities.

Dagmar Goll
Gisela Schütz

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