Diek C. Koningsberger (1938) was educated at the Eindhoven University of Technology, where he studied Physics from 1960 to 1966 and graduated "cum laude". His PhD research on the subject polymerisation of liquid sulphur and selenium was finished in 1971.
After being a staff member at the Eindhoven University of Technology for several years, he started as full professor at the Inorganic Chemsitry and Catalysis group of Utrecht University in 1988. In his career, Koningsberger has always focussed on explaining the activity and selectivity of a catalyst by its structural and electronic properties. The main technique he practised to derive these structure-activity relationships and which made him famous throughout the scientific world is X-ray Absorption Fine Structure Spectroscopy. Koningsbergers interest for this spectroscopy started in its early days, when theory, instrumentation, measurements and data analysis were still in its infancy.
His interest in instrumentation development resulted in a fully operational laboratory EXAFS instrument at Eindhoven University of Technology. Later he was involved in the design and construction of a Dutch XAFS beamline at the SRS in Daresbury. The study of catalysts under working conditions asked for and resulted in the design and development of different types of in situ cells at Utrecht University. And the instrumental development has not ended there; Koningsberger was still very involved in the development of new set-ups and instruments for better, faster and more selective measurements to structurally and electronically characterise reaction intermediates and to reveal reaction mechanisms.
Performing good experiments and obtaining good data is one, but these data also have to be properly analysed. This is another big challenge Koningsberger put a lot of effort in. Both in his numerous papers and in the book on XAFS spectroscopy he edited together with Roel Prins, he tries to educate people in analysing XAFS data in a proper and consistent manner. New data-analysis procedures have been developed and demonstrated in detail.
In the field of fundamental XAFS, Diek Koningsberger and Dave Ramaker were pioneers in developing a new XAFS technique, the so-called Atomic XAFS. They were one of the few who believed in this new technique and devoted lots of time in finding and defining evidences and supports for this concept. Although there is still a big controversy in the XAFS world, large numbers of experimental and theoretical data were collected, showing clear trends in AXAFS intensity and position as a function of the electronic properties of the samples under investigation supporting the AXAFS technique as a new analytical tool.
Although the strength of XAFS spectroscopy in comparison to other characterisation techniques is its applicability both in situ and time resolved, the information obtained is generally not enough to fully characterise the system. Therefore, a wide range of techniques like IR, NMR, UV-Vis, and ESR had to be used as well to give additional information about the system under investigation. Moreover, this information can be used to properly interpret and analyse the EXAFS data. This combination of techniques appears to be very successful in obtaining information of as many different parts of the catalytic system as possible.