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Fellows Directory

Axel Becke

Axel Becke

Professor Axel Becke FRS


Elected: 2006


Axel Becke is a physical chemist renowned for developing theoretical and computational methods for calculating the electronic structure of atoms, molecules and solids. His work is widely applied in chemistry, physics and biology for high-accuracy calculations of the properties of large molecules and materials.

Quantum theory governs how electrons behave. As exact solutions invariably cannot be found for complex systems, approximations and simplifications must be used. His improvements to the accuracy of one such approach, Kohn–Sham density-functional theory, are credited with its high popularity as a computational tool today.

The importance of Axel’s work has been recognised with many awards. These include the medal of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science, the Schrödinger Medal of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists, the American Chemical Society Award in Theoretical Chemistry, the CIC Medal of the Canadian Society for Chemistry, and the NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. The journal Nature recently identified two of Axel’s publications as the 8th and 25th most cited publications of all time.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Mathematics
    • Applied mathematics and theoretical physics
  • Computer sciences
    • Computer science (excl engineering aspects)
  • Astronomy and physics
    • Mathematical and theoretical physics, Quantum theory, Computational physics
  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, theoretical


Density functional theory, Ab initio quantum chemistry methods, Theoretical chemistry

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