Gerhard Abstreiter

Prof. Dr. rer. nat.
Former Professor of Experimental Semiconductor Physics, Director of the Walter Schottky Institute and the Institute for Advanced Study
TUM School of Natural Sciences

born November 27, 1946


Interview with TUM Emeritus of Excellence Gerhard Abstreiter

"I wanted to understand the universe"

Gerhard Abstreiter was the first in his family to attend high school and university. Today the TUM Alumni is a one of the leading researchers in Semiconductor Physics worldwide and has throughout his life been a pioneer. [read more]


As the author of over 600 scientific publications, Gerhard Abstreiter is an internationally renowned top researcher in the field of semiconductor physics. He has made groundbreaking contributions to the determination of the structural, electronic and optical properties of semiconductor nanostructures and to molecular beam epitaxy for the realization of ultra-pure hetero- and nanostructures. Since the founding of the Walter Schottky Institute by Gerhard Abstreiter (1988), his research groups has been regarded as a world leader in the research of semiconductor nanostructures. He has founded the filed of low-dimensional electron systems and has carried out globally recognized pioneering work in many fields. This applies to the first determinations of charge carrier properties in silicon MOS systems as well as to his groundbreaking discovery that highly mobile electron gases can be produced in silicon germanium by tensioning. Gerhard Abstreiter's findings are used today in almost all complex microelectronic circuits and were the basis for his invention of a heterostructure field effect transistor, which can be used as a low-noise preamplifier in satellite antennas and mobile telephones. He founded the field of semiconductor quantum dots by the first spectroscopic proof of the discrete shell structure of electrons and excitons and brought it to bloom. Recent work has focused on possible applications of spin properties in semiconductors and the realization of hetero nanowires. Abstreiter's group succeeded in demonstrating a GaAs based nanowire laser directly grown on silicon. His manifold activities also include the manipulation of DNA on gold surfaces as well as the development of semiconductor-based components for applications in biosensorics and molecular electronics. His achievements in semiconductor physics and nanoscience have won him many awards and recognition worldwide.

 150 Alumni Stories – TUM Emeritus of Excellence Gerhard Abstreiter: "I wanted to understand the Universe" 

Short biography

1968 – 1973 Study of Physics, TU Munich
1973 – 1975  Doctorate, TU Munich
1975 – 1979 Scientific Assistant, Max-Planck-Institute for Solid State Research, Stuttgart and Grenoble
1979 – 1987  Research Group Leader and Habilitation (1984), TUM Department of Physics, TU Munich
1987 – 2013 Professor of Experimental Semiconductor Physics and Director at the Walter Schottky Institute (1988),
TU Munich
2010 Carl von Linde Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, TU Munich
2013 – 2015  Direktor of the Institute for Advanced Study, TU Munich


Memberships and honors

  • Visiting Professor, University of Innsbruck, Austria (1984)
  • Visiting Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara (1995), USA, Distinguished visiting Professor since 2006
  • Visiting Professor, Columbia University, New York, USA (2000)
  • Visiting Professor, University of Tokyo, Japan (2000, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society (since 1992)
  • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Senior Fellowship, Japan (2000)
  • Member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (since 2007)
  • Member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) (since 2009)
  • Fellow of the International Japan Society of Applied Physics (since 2014)
  • Subproject leader in various DFG, BMBF, and EU research alliances
  • Subproject leader in SFB 128 "Elementary excitations at surfaces" (1980-1987)
  • Initiation and establishment of the Walter Schottky Institute (1985-1988)
  • Subproject leader and speaker of the SFB 348 "Nanometer Semiconductor Devices" (1991-2003)
  • Subproject leader and speaker of the SFB 563 "Bioorganic functional systems on solids" (2000-2007)
  • Initiation and establishment of the Centre for Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials (2008-2010)
  • Speaker of the International Doctoral School "Complex Interfaces" (2005-2011)
  • Carl von Linde Senior Fellow and Head of the Focus Group "Nanophotonics" at the TUM Institute for Advanced Study (2008-2013)
  • Subproject leader in SFB 631 "Solid State Based Quantum Information" (2003-2015)
  • Co-Speaker and Member of the Cluster of Excellence "Nanosystems Initiative Munich" (from 2006)



  • Walter-Schottky-Prize of the German Physical Society (1986)
  • Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Award of the German Research Foundatiion (1987)
  • Max-Born-Prize dof the German Physical Society and the British Institute of Physics (1998)
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling-Prize of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (2006)
  • Heinz-Maier-Leibnitz-Medal of the TU Munich (2006)
  • Stern-Gerlach-Prize of the German Physical Society (2014)

Explanations of prizes and honours can be found here(pdf-file to download 215 KB).