Heinrich Rohrer

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

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]

Biography

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 Jörgen 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.

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.

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.

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]

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.

Death

Rohrer died of natural causes May 16, 2013 at his home in Wollerau, Switzerland. He was aged 79 and is survived by his wife; daughters Doris and Ellen; and two grandchildren.[6][7]

References

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  2. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1986, Heinrich Rohrer". Retrieved 20 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  6. "Heinrich Rohrer dies at 79; a father of nanotechnology". LA Times. Retrieved 25 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Heinrich Rohrer obituary, The Economist June 2013