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ZURICH: Richard Ernst, who won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, has died at the age of 87, the ETH Zurich university announced Tuesday. Ernst died on Friday in Winterthur, the city outside Zurich where he was born in 1933.

NMR spectroscopy can be used to study the interaction of atoms and their neighbouring atoms in molecules, said ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Scientists use the method to determine the three-dimensional structure of molecules.

"As a further development of NMR, Ernst also laid the foundations for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)," which depicts tissue and organs in the body, ETH said.

Ernst studied chemical engineering at ETH Zurich in the 1950s and received his doctorate in physical chemistry in 1962. He worked in the private sector in the United States before returning to ETH as a professor.