Heinrich Rohrer

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Heinrich Rohrer
Heinrich Rohrer
Born(1933-06-06)6 June 1933 [1]
Buchs, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Died16 May 2013(2013-05-16) (aged 79)
Wollerau, Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Known forCo-inventor of Scanning tunneling microscope [1]
Awards Nobel Prize in Physics (1986)
Elliott Cresson Medal (1987)
Scientific career
Fields Physics

Heinrich Rohrer (6 June 1933 – 16 May 2013) was a Swiss physicist who shared half of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics with Gerd Binnig for the design of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM). The other half of the Prize was awarded to Ernst Ruska. [2] [3] [4] [5]

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Nobel Prize in Physics One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physics is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for humankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others being the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Gerd Binnig German physicist

Gerd Binnig is a German physicist, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 for the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope.



Rohrer was born in Buchs, St. Gallen half an hour after his twin sister. He enjoyed a carefree country childhood until the family moved to Zürich in 1949. He enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in 1951, where he was student of Wolfgang Pauli and Paul Scherrer. His PhD thesis was supervised by Prof P. Grassmann who worked on cryogenic engineering. Rohrer measured the length changes of superconductors at the magnetic-field-induced superconducting transition, a project begun by Jørgen Lykke Olsen. In the course of his research, he found that he had to do most of his research at night after the city was asleep because his measurements were so sensitive to vibration.

Buchs, St. Gallen Place in St. Gallen, Switzerland

Buchs is a municipality in the Wahlkreis (constituency) of Werdenberg in the canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland. It lies on the border with Liechtenstein. Buchs officially became a town in 2002.

Zürich Place in Switzerland

Zürich or Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich. The municipality has approximately 409,000 inhabitants, the urban agglomeration 1.315 million and the Zürich metropolitan area 1.83 million. Zürich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zürich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.

ETH Zurich Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich

ETH Zurich is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Like its sister institution EPFL, it is an integral part of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain that is directly subordinate to Switzerland's Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. The school was founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, serve as a national center of excellence in science and technology and provide a hub for interaction between the scientific community and industry.

His studies were interrupted by his military service in the Swiss mountain infantry. In 1961, he married Rose-Marie Egger. Their honeymoon trip to the United States included a stint doing research on thermal conductivity of type-II superconductors and metals with Bernie Serin at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Rutgers University multi-campus American public research university in New Jersey, United States

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, commonly referred to as Rutgers University, Rutgers, or RU, is a public research university in New Jersey. It is the largest institution of higher education in New Jersey.

New Jersey State of the United States of America

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States. It is located on a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, particularly along the extent of the length of New York City on its western edge; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, and the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states; its biggest city is Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

In 1963, he joined the IBM Research Laboratory in Rüschlikon under the direction of Ambros Speiser. The first couple of years at IBM, he studied Kondo systems with magnetoresistance in pulsed magnetic fields. He then began studying magnetic phase diagrams, which eventually brought him into the field of critical phenomena.

IBM American multinational technology and consulting corporation

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational information technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, with operations in over 170 countries. The company began in 1911, founded in Endicott, New York, as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) and was renamed "International Business Machines" in 1924.

Rüschlikon Place in Zürich, Switzerland

Rüschlikon is a municipality in the district of Horgen in the canton of Zürich in Switzerland. It is located on the west shore of Lake Zürich.

Ambrosius Paul Speiser was a Swiss engineer and scientist. He led the development of the first Swiss computer.

In 1974, he spent a sabbatical year at the University of California in Santa Barbara, California studying nuclear magnetic resonance with Vince Jaccarino and Alan King.[ citation needed ]

A sabbatical is a rest or break from work.

University of California public university system in California

The University of California (UC) is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-system public higher education plan, which also includes the California State University system and the California Community Colleges System.

Santa Barbara, California City in California, United States

Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County in the U.S. state of California. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara's climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the "American Riviera". As of 2014, the city had an estimated population of 91,196, up from 88,410 in 2010, making it the second most populous city in the county after Santa Maria. The contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, has an approximate population of 220,000. The population of the entire county in 2010 was 423,895.

Until 1982 he worked on the scanning tunneling microscope. He was appointed IBM Fellow in 1986, and led the physics department of the research lab from 1986 until 1988.

An IBM Fellow is an appointed position at IBM made by IBM's CEO. Typically only four to nine IBM Fellows are appointed each year, in May or June. It is the highest honor a scientist, engineer, or programmer at IBM can achieve.


Rohrer died of natural causes on 16 May 2013 at his home in Wollerau, Switzerland, aged 79. [6] [7]

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  1. 1 2 Gerber, Christoph (2013). "Heinrich Rohrer (1933–2013) Co-inventor of the scanning tunnelling microscope". Nature. 499 (7456): 30–31. Bibcode:2013Natur.499...30G. doi:10.1038/499030a. PMID   23823788.
  2. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1986, Heinrich Rohrer" . Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  3. Weiss, P. S. (2013). "Dr. Heinrich Rohrer (1933–2013), Founding Father of Nanotechnology". ACS Nano. 7 (6): 4693–4693. doi:10.1021/nn402978h. PMID   23799298.
  4. Weiss, P. S. (2007). "A Conversation withDr. Heinrich Rohrer: STM Co-inventor and One of the Founding Fathers of Nanoscience". ACS Nano. 1 (1): 3–5. doi:10.1021/nn7001294. PMID   19203123.
  5. Robinson, A. L. (1986). "Electron Microscope Inventors Share Nobel Physics Prize: Ernst Ruska built the first electron microscope in 1931; Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer developed the scanning tunneling microscope 50 years later". Science. 234 (4778): 821–822. Bibcode:1986Sci...234..821R. doi:10.1126/science.234.4778.821. PMID   17758103.
  6. "Heinrich Rohrer dies at 79; a father of nanotechnology". LA Times. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  7. Heinrich Rohrer obituary, The Economist June 2013