Press Release 126/2014

Young Scientist of KIT Receives Award for Understandable Science

Dr. Jan Ungelenk Is Granted the 2014 Klaus Tschira Award for Understandable Science for His Article “Chemistry with the Power of the Sun“
Dr. h.c. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Klaus Tschira and award winner (chemistry) Dr. Jan Ungelenk. (Photo: Klaus Tschira Foundation)

For the clear description of his research work, Dr. Jan Ungelenk, who did his doctorate at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), is granted the Klaus Tschira Award for Understandable Science, KlarText!, in the category of chemistry. His doctoral thesis deals with tin tungstate as a photocatalyst. In a generally understandable article entitled “Chemie mit der Kraft der Sonne” (Chemistry with the power of the sun), Jan Ungelenk presents the results. The KlarText! awards will be handed over by Klaus Tschira on October 9, 16 hrs, at the Alte Aula of Heidelberg University.


The Klaus Tschira Foundation awards the prize in the categories of biology, chemistry, informatics, mathematics, neurosciences, and physics to young scientists, who wrote an outstanding doctoral thesis in the previous year and who succeeded in presenting the results in a generally understandable article of about three pages. Every KlarText! winner receives a sum in the amount of EUR 5000. All six prize-winning contributions are published in a supplementary issue of the popular science magazine bild der wissenschaft.


In his article “Chemie mit der Kraft der Sonne” (Chemistry with the power of the sun), Dr. Jan Ungelenk describes the search for a new material, by means of which sunlight can be used much more efficiently for chemical reactions than before. Such a photocatalyst that can use visible light is of interest to medical applications among others. In theory, tin tungstate appeared to be a suitable candidate. With the help of a trick, Jan Ungelenk for the first time succeeded in producing yellow tin tungstate at a low temperature and a so far unmatched quality. This yellow tin tungstate possesses photocatalytic properties and is up to 16 times more active under simulated sunlight than titanium dioxide that is the most frequently applied photocatalyst today. In a cooperation project, a working group headed by PD Dr. Ute Schepers, KIT, demonstrated that yellow tin tungstate destroys human liver cancer cells when exposed to blue light. In his article, Jan Ungelenk describes his research work in a generally understandable way and clearly explains all scientific terms. He succeeds in maintaining the suspense arc from the beginning to the end.


Jan Ungelenk, who was born in 1985, studied nanostructure and molecular sciences at the University of Kassel. He wrote his diploma thesis at the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart. His doctoral thesis written at the KIT and entitled “Zinnwolframat – ein solar aktivierbarer Fotokatalysator und Übergangsmetallwolframate als nanoskalige Funktionsmateria-lien” (Tin tungstate – a solar activable photocatalyst and transition metal tungstates as nanoscaled functional materials) was supervised by Professor Claus Feldmann. It was given the grade summa cum laude. For his doctoral thesis, Jan Ungelenk received the 2013 Environmental Award of the Sparkasse Karlsruhe Ettlingen. Since March 2014, he has been working as a laboratory director (oxidation catalysis) with BASF SE, Ludwigshafen.


The Klaus Tschira Foundation supports natural sciences, mathematics, and informatics and the public appreciation of these subjects. To strengthen the skills of communicating science, the Foundation, together with the KIT, established the National Institute for Science Communication (NaWik) in Karlsruhe.


The other winners of the 2014 Klaus Tschira Award for Understandable Science are Dr. Karen Linnemannstöns (biology, Universität Göttingen), Dr. Sebastian Trimpe (informatics, ETH Zurich), Dr. Jannik Matuschke (mathematics, TU Berlin), Dr. Katja Franke (neurosciences, University of Zurich), and Dr. Benjamin Thaidigsmann (physics, Universität Tübingen). The winners are free to apply for further funding of science communication projects by the Foundation. In total, 170 young scientists applied for the 2014 Klaus Tschira Award. All of them may join a workshop of two days’ duration on science communication in Heidelberg organized by the Foundation.


Photos of the award winners may be obtained at The price-winning contributions and the complete KlarText! special issue are available at



Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

or, 07.10.2014


Monika Landgraf
Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-41150
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
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Contact for this press release:

Renate Ries, Leiterin Medien und Kommunikation, Klaus Tschira Stiftung gemeinnützige GmbH, Tel.: +49 6221-533-102, Fax: +49 6221-533-599102, E-Mail:renate ries does-not-exist.klaus-tschira-stiftung de

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