Stark, Wendelin Jan, Prof. Dr.

Prof. Dr. Wendelin Jan Stark

Inst. f. Chemie- u. Bioing.wiss. 

HCI  E 107 

Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 1-5/10

8093 Zürich


  • phone +41 44 632 09 80 
  • fax +41 44 633 10 83 
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Wendelin Stark (1976) is Full Professor at the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering of ETH Zurich and heads the chair in Functional Materials Engineering. He studied Chemistry at the ETH with a stay at the UC Berkeley in 1999 and pursued a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH. He spent his Sabbatical in Tokyo, at the RIKEN, and at the MIT, in Cambridge, MA, in 2011.


Research focus

Wendelin Stark’s research combines materials with specific functions for medical or industrial use. He has developed nanoparticles for environmental applications i.e. to increase energy efficiency in water and solvent purification, to enable large scale remediation or for more environment-friendly catalytic processes. He has pioneered inherent safety aspects in nanoparticle applications and toxicology during industrial product design.

Market effective research

Six companies have been co-founded by Wendelin Stark: FlamePowders AG made large scale oxide powders (stopped operation in 2006), Turbobeads GmbH makes magnetic chemicals (partially distributed by Sigma-Aldrich) and diagnostic reagents, nanograde AG provides over 1 Million different and customized nanoparticles, smartodont GmbH introduces bioactivity to polymer implants, and novamem GmbH produces ultrafiltration membranes for water purification and organic solvent nanofiltration. The youngest one, Haelixa GmbH uses a high-tech nanotechnology tracer technology developed at FML to provide solutions for industrial tracing, product authentication and liability management

Selection of Wendelin Stark's achievements

Industrial scale nanoparticle fabrication: From oxide to inorganic salts, glasses, biomaterials and metal nanoparticles

  • Multicomponent oxide, salt and metal nanoparticles have become available through modified, scalable flame spray synthesis making classical commodities obtainable as nanoparticles [1], including nano-limestone, nano-gypsum, nano-salt [2] and nano-glass [3]. Making inverted flames running under oxygen deficient conditions, even metal nanoparticles became available as low cost commodity products [4][5][6].
  • Bioactive glasses and amorphous calcium phosphates today provide a key tool for biomaterials development where the corresponding mineral nanoparticles convey bioactivity (tissue bonding) to virtually any medically useful polymer [7][8].

Metal nanomagnets with a well-defined, covalently attached chemical surface now enable the use of “magnetic chemical reagents” as powerful tools for accelerating organic synthesis

  • In medicine, chemically defined metal nanomagnets enable in vivo extraction of toxic intermediates or compounds out of living blood [9][10].
  • Magnetic catalysts (semi-heterogeneous) and magnetic EDTA for heavy metal removal from highly dilute concentrations.
  • Magnetic carbon and ion exchange nanoparticles for ore refining in acidic environment

Pioneering research in nanotoxicology

  • Wendelin Stark has developed method and risk evaluation concepts for safe nanoparticles since 2003 and identified key concepts in nanotox, such as the role of particle agglomeration, diffusion and sedimentation [11], solubility, and catalytic activity [12]. His group experimentally pioneered investigations on nanoparticles in wastewater treatment plants [13], exposure of human lung epithelial cells to engineered nanoparticles [14], and during municipal waste incineration at a 200’000 ton per year scale [15].
  • Prof. Stark has assisted Swiss Government agencies in developing regulatory evaluation tools for nanoparticle containing products and served as the chairman of the 2nd International Conference in Nanotoxicology. His work has led to fundamental understanding on the behavior of nanoparticles in biological systems and the recognition that persistent nanoparticles should not be used in consumer goods [16].

Living materials combine classical polymers with microorganism and allow “on site” consumption and chemical production of compounds in consumer goods

  • Controlled release has enabled fascinating applications in numerous fields. Living materials that include a microorganism as part of a composition, however can tackle even more complex functions, such as “eating” [17], or local production of antibiotics [18].

Organic Synthesis on graphene

  • Wendelin Stark has introduced multi-step, covalent and pattern resolved chemical derivatisation of graphene as a basic tool to alter electrical conductivity and as a starting point for the preparation of 2D polymers [19]. Today, this covalent carbon-carbon link provides a chemical design element perpendicular to the graphene base plane and ultimately uses organic chemistry to allow an atom by atom design of function [20].
Professional Position  
Since 2014 Full professor, Departement of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
2009 - 2014 Associate professor, Departement of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
2004 - 2009
Assistant professor, Departement of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
2002 - 2003 Associate research scientist, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Education & Training
2000-2002 Ph.D. Mechanical and Process Engineering, Prof. S.E. Pratsinis and Prof. A. Baiker, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, “Functional Nanoparticles by Flame Aerosol Synthesis: Applications in Heterogeneous Catalysis”
1996-2000 M.Sc. Chemistry, Prof. S.E. Pratsinis and Prof. A. Baiker, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Awards & Honors  
2010 American Association for Aerosol Research, Whitby Award, Portland, USA, October 2010.
2010 Gesellschaft für Aerosolforschung, Smoluchowski Award, International Aerosol Conference 2010, Helsinki, September 2010
2010 STARS 2010 Symposium, Leaders for the next generation, invited referent for nanotechnology, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland, September 2010.
2008 New York Academy of Sciences, Future Leader, Science and Technology in Society, Kyoto, October 2008
2008 American Chemical Society, Env. Sci. Technol., 2007 Science Award
2007 Ruzicka Award of ETH Zurich, Department of Chemistry
2004 Hilti Award for outstanding doctoral research
2004 Venture 2004, McKinsey Switzerland, Finalist, Rank 4
2001 ETH Medal for the best Diploma thesis in chemistry
2000 Willi Studer Award for outstanding Diploma research
1995 Silver medal, International Chemistry Olympiad, Beijing, China
1994 Bronze medal, International Chemistry Olympiad, Oslo, Norway


Selected Publications

Wendelin Stark has written over 170 papers and 20 patents. His work is well cited (over 1000 times per year, Thompson Scientific) and he is listed amongst the top 0.25% best cited scientists (all disciplines).

[1] Aerosol. Sci. Tech., 44(2), 161-72 (2010)
[2] Chem. Commun., 14, 1767-9 (2005)
[3] Chem. Commun., 13, 1384-6 (2006)
[4] J. Mater. Chem., 16, 1825-30 (2006)
[5] Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 46, 4909-12 (2007)
Featured in Nature Nanotechnology as a Research Highlight
[6] Adv. Mat., 20, 3044-3049 (2008)
[7] J. Mater. Chem., 17, 4072-8 (2007)
[8] Acta Biomater., 5(5), 1775-84 (2009)
[9] Small, 6(13), 1388-92 (2010)
Featured in Nature Nanotechnology as a Research Highlight
[10] Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 49(19), 9355-62 (2010)
[11] Environ. Sci. Technol., 39(23), 9370-76 (2005)
[12] Environ. Sci. Technol., 40 (14), 4374-81 (2006)
[13] Environ. Sci. Technol., 2008, 42, 5828–5833 (2008)
Featured in Nature Nanotechnology as a Research Highlight
[14] Environ. Sci. Technol., 41, 4084-9 (2007)
[15] Nat. Nanotech., 7, 520–524 (2012)
[16] Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 50(6), 1242-58 (2011)
[17] Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 109(1), 90-94 (2012)
Featured in Science as Editor's Choice
[18] Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 51(45), 11293 –11296 (2012)
Featured in Nature Chemistry as a Research Highlight
[19] Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 48(1), 224-7 (2009)
[20] Acc. Chem. Res., 46(10), 2297-2306 (2013)

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