Heinrich Rohrer


Heinrich Rohrer

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Heinrich Rohrer
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1986

Born: 6 June 1933, Buchs, Switzerland

Died: 16 May 2013, Wollerau, Switzerland

Affiliation at the time of the award: IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, Rüschlikon, Switzerland

Prize motivation: “for their design of the scanning tunneling microscope”

Prize share: 1/4


In optical microscopes the size of objects that can be observed is limited by the wavelength of light. In 1981 Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig developed the scanning tunneling microscope, which transcends this limit. The instrument is based on an extremely thin point that passes very close to a surface. A low electrical charge is positioned between the point and the surface, and through a quantum mechanical effect, the tunnel effect, a current arises that varies with the distance from the surface. The current is registered and allows the creation of an image in which objects as small as individual atoms can be distinguished.

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MLA style: Heinrich Rohrer – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Mon. 4 Dec 2023. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1986/rohrer/facts/>

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