Ernst Ruska

Ernst August Friedrich Ruska (25 December 1906 – 27 May 1988)[1] was a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 for his work in electron optics, including the design of the first electron microscope.[2]

Ernst Ruska
Ernst Ruska
Ernst August Friedrich Ruska

25 December 1906
Died27 May 1988 (aged 81)
Alma materTechnical University of Berlin
Technical University of Munich
Known forElectron Microscopy
AwardsAlbert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1960)
Duddell Medal and Prize (1975)
Robert Koch Prize (Gold, 1986)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1986)
Scientific career
InstitutionsFritz Haber Institute
Technical University of Berlin
Doctoral advisorMax Knoll
Ernst Ruska constructed the first transmission electron microscope (TEM) with his mentor Max Knoll
Ernst Ruska Electron Microscope - Deutsches Museum - Munich-edit
Electron microscope constructed by Ernst Ruska in 1933

Life and career

Ernst Ruska was born in Heidelberg, Germany. He was educated at the Technical University of Munich from 1925 to 1927 and then entered the Technical University of Berlin, where he posited that microscopes using electrons, with wavelengths 1000 times shorter than those of light, could provide a more detailed picture of an object than a microscope utilizing light, in which magnification is limited by the size of the wavelengths. In 1931, he demonstrated that a magnetic coil could act as an electron lens, and used several coils in a series to build the first electron microscope in 1933.

After completing his PhD in 1933, Ruska continued to work in the field of electron optics, first at Fernseh Ltd in Berlin-Zehlendorf, and then from 1937 at Siemens-Reiniger-Werke AG. At Siemens, he was involved in developing the first commercially produced electron microscope in 1939. As well as developing the technology of electron microscopy while at Siemens, Ruska also worked at other scientific institutions, and encouraged Siemens to set up a laboratory for visiting researchers, which was initially headed by Ruska's brother Helmut, a medical doctor who developed the use of the electron microscope for medical and biological applications.

After leaving Siemens in 1955, Ruska served as director of the Institute for Electron Microscopy of the Fritz Haber Institute until 1974. Concurrently, he served at the institute and as professor at the Technical University of Berlin from 1957 until his retirement in 1974.

In 1960 he won the Lasker Award.[3] In 1986, he was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his many achievements in electron optics; Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer won a quarter each for their design of the scanning tunneling microscope. He died in West Berlin in 1988.

Asteroid 1178 Irmela discovered by Max Wolf is named after his wife Irmela.[4]


  1. ^ His Nobel bio claims he died on 25 May, while the Ruska memorial site says 27 May
  2. ^ Hawkes, Peter W. (July 1990). "Ernst Ruska". Physics Today. 43 (7): 84–85. Bibcode:1990PhT....43g..84H. doi:10.1063/1.2810640. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04.
  3. ^ Browne, Malcolm W. (31 May 1988). "Ernst Ruska, a German Nobel Prize Winner, Dies at 81". NY Times.
  4. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). "(1178) Irmela". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (1178) Irmela. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 99. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_1179. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3.}}

External links

1178 Irmela

1178 Irmela, provisional designation 1931 EC, is a stony asteroid from the middle regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 19 kilometers in diameter.

It was discovered on 13 March 1931, by German astronomer Max Wolf at Heidelberg Observatory in southwest Germany. The asteroid was named after Irmela Ruska, wife of Ernst Ruska.

1906 in Germany

Events in the year 1906 in Germany.

1988 in Germany

Events in the year 1988 in Germany.

Bodo von Borries

Bodo von Borries (born 22 May 1905 in Herford, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany — died 17 July 1956 in Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia) was a German physicist. He was the co-inventor of the electron microscope.

Von Borries studied electrical engineering at the Technical University of Danzig, and at Berlin Institute of Technology, where he was awarded a PhD in 1932.

Von Borries worked at RWE from 1934 to 1937. In 1937 he commenced work on electron microscopy with Ernst Ruska at Siemens & Halske AG in Berlin. In 1937 von Borries 1937 married Hedwig Ruska, Ernst Ruska's sister.

After World War II , he founded the "Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Electron Microscopy" in Düsseldorf in 1948. In 1949, he was involved in the foundation of the German Society for Electron Microscopy.

In 1953 he became a full professor at the Technical University of Aachen and established its Department of Electron Optics and Precision Engineering, where he worked until his sudden death in 1956.


The Polish surname Dunin originated in the 12th century with Piotr Włost Dunin. He was Palatine of Poland and the castellan of Wroclaw (Silesia), as well as, Brother in law of Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth (Boleslaw Krzywousty). The coat of arms is the Łabędź (swan). See: Duninowie family.

Piotr Włostowic, also known as 'Piotr Włost Dunin', a Silesian noble and voivode, adviser of the king of Poland (1080–1153).

Princess Mariya (Maria), daughter of Grand Duke Sviatopolk II of Kiev and the Imperial Byzantine Princess Barbara Komnene (Komnenos Emperors), she married Piotr Włostowic and co-founded the Dunin family.

Piotr Dunin (fl. 1462), Polish military hero.

Marcin Dunin (1774–1842), Archbishop of Poznań and Gniezno (1831–1842)

Count Stanisław Dunin-Wąsowicz, Polish general, captain of the 1st Polish Lancers and Napoleon's loyal aide-de-camp during his 1812 Russian Campaign.

Wincenty Dunin-Marcinkiewicz (January 23, 1808-1884), Belarusian and Polish writer, poet, dramatist, social activist, humanist, is considered a founder of the New Belarusian Literature.

Count Rodryg Dunin (1870–1928), Polish agriculturist.

Count Casimir Dunin-Markiewicz (1874–1932), (also spelled Kazimierz Dunin-Markiewicz) Polish painter.

Count Antoni Dunin (1907–1939), Polish army officer

Ron Dunin, (1918–2004), mayor of San Luis Obispo, California from 1985–1992

Elsie Ivancich Dunin (born 1935), Croatian-American dance ethnologist

Kinga Dunin (born 1954), "a literary critic and Poland's leading feminist", author, and cultural journalist. Author of Tao of a Housewife (1996) and A Pumpkin Coach (2000).

Elonka Dunin (born 1958), American cryptographer and game developer

Rafal E. Dunin-Borkowski (born 1969), director of the Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons (ER-C) in Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Ernst Ruska-Centre

The Ernst Ruska-Centre (ER-C) for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons is a German research establishment conjointly operated by the Jülich Research Centre and RWTH Aachen University on a pari passu basis. The facility, which also offers user services to external research groups, is located on the campus of Research Centre Jülich belonging to the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

The ER-C's main purposes are fundamental research in high-resolution transmission electron microscopy method development as well as respective applications coming along with topical problems in solid state research and energy research. For these purposes the ER-C runs several state-of-the-art transmission electron microscopes and develops customed software solutions to be used for e.g. for the exit wave retrieval purposes or the measurement of higher-order lens aberrations.

The ER-C was founded in Aachen on 27 January 2004 by means of a contract signed by the chairman of Forschungszentrum Jülich Joachim Treusch and RWTH Aachen University's rector Burkhard Rauhut. The centre was inaugurated on 18 May 2006 in presence of members of the Ernst Ruska family as well as representatives of the international electron microscopy community.

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society

The Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society (FHI) is a science research institute located at the heart of the academic district of Dahlem, in Berlin, Germany.

The original Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, founded in 1911, was incorporated in the Max Planck Society and simultaneously renamed for its first director, Fritz Haber, in 1953.

The research topics covered throughout the history of the institute include chemical kinetics and reaction dynamics, colloid chemistry, atomic physics, spectroscopy, surface chemistry and surface physics, chemical physics and molecular physics, theoretical chemistry, and materials science.During World War I and World War II, the research of the institute was directed more or less towards Germany's military needs.

To the illustrious past members of the Institute belong Herbert Freundlich, James Franck, Paul Friedlander, Rudolf Ladenburg, Michael Polanyi, Eugene Wigner, Ladislaus Farkas, Hartmut Kallmann, Otto Hahn, Robert Havemann, Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer, Iwan N. Stranski, Ernst Ruska, Max von Laue, Gerhard Borrmann, Rudolf Brill, Kurt Moliere, Jochen Block, Heinz Gerischer, Rolf Hosemann, Kurt Ueberreiter, Alexander Bradshaw, Elmar Zeitler, and Gerhard Ertl.

Nobel Prize laureates affiliated with the institute include Max von Laue (1914), Fritz Haber (1918), James Franck (1925), Otto Hahn (1944), Eugene Wigner (1963), Ernst Ruska (1986), Gerhard Ertl (2007).

Gerd Binnig

Gerd Binnig (born 20 July 1947) is a German physicist, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 for the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope.He was born in Frankfurt am Main and played in the ruins of the city during his childhood. His family lived partly in Frankfurt and partly in Offenbach am Main, and he attended school in both cities. At the age of 10, he decided to become a physicist, but he soon wondered whether he had made the right choice. He concentrated more on music, playing in a band. He also started playing the violin at 15 and played in his school orchestra.Binnig studied physics at the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, gaining a bachelor's degree in 1973 and remaining there do a PhD with in Werner Martienssen's group, supervised by Eckhardt Hoenig.In 1969, he married Lore Wagler, a psychologist, and they have a daughter born in Switzerland and a son born in California. His hobbies are reading, swimming and golf.

In 1978, he accepted an offer from IBM to join their Zürich research group, where he worked with Heinrich Rohrer, Christoph Gerber and Edmund Weibel. There they developed the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), an instrument for imaging surfaces at the atomic level.

The Nobel committee described the effect that the invention of the STM had on science, saying that "entirely new fields are opening up for the study of the structure of matter." The physical principles on which the STM was based were already known before the IBM team developed the STM, but Binnig and his colleagues were the first to solve the significant experimental challenges involved in putting it into effect.The IBM Zürich team were soon recognized with a number of prizes: the German Physics Prize, the Otto Klung Prize, the Hewlett Packard Prize and the King Faisal Prize.

In 1986, Binnig and Rohrer shared half of the Nobel Prize in Physics, the other half of the Prize was awarded to Ernst Ruska.

From 1985-1988, he worked in California. He was at IBM in Almaden Valley, and was visiting professor at Stanford University.In 1985, Binnig invented the atomic force microscope (AFM) and Binnig, Christoph Gerber and Calvin Quate went on to develop a working version of this new microscope for insulating surfaces.In 1987 Binnig was appointed IBM Fellow. In the same year, he started the IBM Physics group Munich, working on creativity and atomic force microscopy In 1994 Professor Gerd Binnig founded Definiens which turned in the year 2000 into a commercial enterprise. The company developed Cognition Network Technology to analyze images just like the human eye and brain are capable of 2016, Binnig won the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience. He became a fellow of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.The Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center, an IBM-owned research facility in Rüschlikon, Zürich is named after Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer.

German Society for Electron Microscopy

The German Society for Electron Microscopy (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Elektronenmikroskopie, abbreviated DGE) is a learned society founded in 1949 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Ernst Brüche suggested that an association dedicated to electron microscopy be formed to coordinate German work. In the immediate post-World War II period, there were three German centers of research on electron microscopes: in Berlin under Ernst Ruska, in Mosbach under Brüche, and in Düsseldorf under Bodo von Borries.The first president of the DGE was Ruska, and its first committee members were Hans Mahl, Fritz Jung, Walter Kikuth and Otto Scherzer and von Borries.Hans Busch was elected an honorary member at the Society's first meeting.In 2016, the society had 396 members.

Hans Busch

Hans Busch (27 February 1884 in Jüchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany – 16 February 1973 in Darmstadt, Hesse) was a German physicist. He was a pioneer of electron optics and laid the theoretical basis for the electron microscope.

Ernst Ruska read a paper by Busch in the academic journal Archives Elektrotechnik where Busch suggested that magnetic fields could be used to direct beams of electrons analogous to the way light is refracted by optical lenses. In recognition of his work in the field, Busch was unanimously elected an honorary fellow of the German Society for Electron Microscopy at its first meeting in 1949.

Heinrich Rohrer

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.

Helmut Ruska

Helmut Ruska (June 7, 1908, Heidelberg - August 30, 1973) was a German physician and biologist from Heidelberg. After earning his medical degree, he spent several years working as a physician at hospitals in Heidelberg and Berlin. During this time, he also worked closely with his brother Ernst Ruska (1906-1988) and brother-in-law Bodo von Borries (1905-56), who were both research scientists at Siemens-Reiniger-Werke. Ernst Ruska was the inventor of the electron microscope, and later winner of a Nobel Prize. From 1948-1951, Helmut Ruska was a professor at the University of Berlin, in 1952 he moved to the United States where he was a micromorphologist for the New York State Department of Health in Albany. He returned to Germany in 1958 as director of biophysics at the University of Düsseldorf.

Through close association with his brother, Helmut Ruska is remembered for developing the electron microscope for biological and medical applications. He was the first scientist to study "sub-microscopic" structures of parasites, bacteriophages and various viruses with an electron microscope. In the 1940s, he published numerous articles regarding his research, including Die Bedeutung der Übermikroskopie für die Virusforschung (The Significance of Electron Microscopy for Virus Research).

Julius Ruska

Julius Ferdinand Ruska (9 February 1867, Bühl, Baden - 11 February 1949, Schramberg) was a German orientalist, historian of science and educator.

He was a critical scholar of alchemical literature, and of Islamic science, raising many issues on attributions and sources of the texts, and providing translations. The range of his studies was wide, including the Emerald Tablet, a basic hermetic text. From 1924 he headed an institute in Heidelberg, where he has been a student.

Of his seven children, Ernst Ruska and Helmut Ruska were distinguished in their fields.

Knut Urban

Knut W. Urban (born 25 June 1941 in Stuttgart) is a German physicist. He has been the Director of the Institute of Microstructure Research at Forschungszentrum Jülich from 1987 to 2010.

Knut Urban's research focuses on the field of aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (both regarding the further development of instruments and the control software), the examination of structural defects in oxides and the physical properties of complex metallic alloys. He also works on Josephson effects in high-temperature superconductors and the application of these effects in SQUID systems and magnetometers as well as on the application of Hilbert transform spectroscopy in examining the excitation of solids, liquids and gases on the gigahertz and terahertz scale.

Besides his activities at Forschungszentrum Jülich he was also professor for experimental physics at RWTH Aachen University before retirement.

List of microscopists

This is a list a microscopists.

Max Knoll

Max Knoll (17 July 1897 – 6 November 1969) was a German electrical engineer.

Knoll was born in Wiesbaden and studied in Munich and at the Technical University of Berlin, where he obtained his doctorate in the Institute for High Voltage Technology. In 1927 he became the leader of the electron research group there, where he and his co-worker, Ernst Ruska, invented the electron microscope in 1931. In April 1932, Knoll joined Telefunken in Berlin to do developmental work in the field of television design. He was also a private lecturer in Berlin.

After World War II, Knoll joined the University of Munich as extraordinary professor and director of the Institute for Electromedicine. He moved to the USA in 1948, to work at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University.

In 1956 he returned to Munich and engaged in a series of experiments at the Technische Hochschule, involving the generation of phosphenes by electrically stimulating the brains of himself and other subjects. He retired in 1966.

Rafal E. Dunin-Borkowski

Rafal Edward Dunin-Borkowski (born 1969) is a British experimental physicist. He is currently Director of the Institute for Microstructure Research (PGI-5) and the Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons (ER-C) in Forschungszentrum Jülich and Professor of Experimental Physics in RWTH Aachen University.

Timeline of microscope technology

Timeline of microscope technology

c. 700 BCE - The "Nimrud lens" of Assyrians manufacture, a rock crystal disk with a convex shape believed to be a burning or magnifying lens.

167 BCE - The Chinese use simple microscopes made of a lens and a water-filled tube to visualize the unseen.

13th century - The increase in use of lenses in eyeglasses probably led to the wide spread use of simple microscopes (single lens magnifying glasses) with limited magnification.

1590 - earliest date of a claimed Hans Martens/Zacharias Janssen invention of the compound microscope (claim made in 1655).

After 1609 - Galileo Galilei is described as being able to close focus his telescope to view small objects close up and/or looking through the wrong end in reverse to magnify small objects. A telescope used in this fashion is the same as a compound microscope but historians debate whether Galileo was magnifying small objects or viewing near by objects with his terrestrial telescope (convex objective/concave eyepiece) reversed.

1619 - Earliest recorded description of a compound microscope, Dutch Ambassador Willem Boreel sees one in London in the possession of Dutch inventor Cornelius Drebbel, an instrument about eighteen inches long, two inches in diameter, and supported on 3 brass dolphins.

1621 - Cornelius Drebbel presents, in London, a compound microscope with a convex objective and a convex eyepiece (a "Keplerian" microscope).

c.1622 - Drebbel presents his invention in Rome.

1624 - Galileo improves on a compound microscope he sees in Rome and presents his occhiolino to Prince Federico Cesi, founder of the Accademia dei Lincei (in English, The Linceans).

1625 - Francesco Stelluti and Federico Cesi publish Apiarium, the first account of observations using a compound microscope

1625 - Giovanni Faber of Bamberg (1574 - 1629) of the Linceans, after seeing Galileo's occhiolino, coins the word microscope by analogy with telescope.

1655 - In an investigation by Willem Boreel, Dutch spectacle-maker Johannes Zachariassen claims his father, Zacharias Jansen, invented the compound microscope in 1590. Zachariassen's claimed dates are so early it is sometimes assumed, for the claim to be true, that his grandfather, Hans Martens, must have invented it. Findings are published by writer Pierre Borel. Discrepancies in Boreel's investigation and Zachariassen's testimony (including misrepresenting his date of birth and role in the invention) has led some historians to consider this claim dubious.

1665 - Robert Hooke publishes Micrographia, a collection of biological micrographs. He coins the word cell for the structures he discovers in cork bark.

1674 - Anton van Leeuwenhoek improves on a simple microscope for viewing biological specimens.

1850s - John Leonard Riddell, Professor of Chemistry at Tulane University, invents the first practical binocular microscope.

1863 - Henry Clifton Sorby develops a metallurgical microscope to observe structure of meteorites.

1860s - Ernst Abbe discovers the Abbe sine condition, a breakthrough in microscope design, which until then was largely based on trial and error. The company of Carl Zeiss exploited this discovery and becomes the dominant microscope manufacturer of its era.

1928 - Edward Hutchinson Synge publishes theory underlying the near-field scanning optical microscope

1931 - Ernst Ruska starts to build the first electron microscope. It is a Transmission electron microscope (TEM)

1936 - Erwin Wilhelm Müller invents the field emission microscope.

1938 - James Hillier builds another TEM

1951 - Erwin Wilhelm Müller invents the field ion microscope and is the first to see atoms.

1953 - Frits Zernike, professor of theoretical physics, receives the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the phase contrast microscope.

1955 - George Nomarski, professor of microscopy, published the theoretical basis of Differential interference contrast microscopy.

1957 - Marvin Minsky, a professor at MIT, invents the confocal microscope, an optical imaging technique for increasing optical resolution and contrast of a micrograph by means of using a spatial pinhole to block out-of-focus light in image formation. This technology is a predecessor to today's widely used confocal laser scanning microscope.

1967 - Erwin Wilhelm Müller adds time-of-flight spectroscopy to the field ion microscope, making the first atom probe and allowing the chemical identification of each individual atom.

1981 - Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer develop the scanning tunneling microscope (STM).

1986 - Gerd Binnig, Quate, and Gerber invent the Atomic force microscope (AFM)

1988 - Alfred Cerezo, Terence Godfrey, and George D. W. Smith applied a position-sensitive detector to the atom probe, making it able to resolve materials in 3-dimensions with near-atomic resolution.

1988 - Kingo Itaya invents the Electrochemical scanning tunneling microscope

1991 - Kelvin probe force microscope invented.

Transmission electron microscopy

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM, an abbreviation which can also stand for the instrument, a transmission electron microscope) is a microscopy technique in which a beam of electrons is transmitted through a specimen to form an image. The specimen is most often an ultrathin section less than 100 nm thick or a suspension on a grid. An image is formed from the interaction of the electrons with the sample as the beam is transmitted through the specimen. The image is then magnified and focused onto an imaging device, such as a fluorescent screen, a layer of photographic film, or a sensor such as a scintillator attached to a charge-coupled device.

Transmission electron microscopes are capable of imaging at a significantly higher resolution than light microscopes, owing to the smaller de Broglie wavelength of electrons. This enables the instrument to capture fine detail—even as small as a single column of atoms, which is thousands of times smaller than a resolvable object seen in a light microscope. Transmission electron microscopy is a major analytical method in the physical, chemical and biological sciences. TEMs find application in cancer research, virology, and materials science as well as pollution, nanotechnology and semiconductor research.

TEM instruments boast an enormous array of operating modes including conventional imaging, scanning TEM imaging (STEM), diffraction, spectroscopy, and combinations of these. Even within conventional imaging, there are many fundamentally different ways that contrast is produced, called "image contrast mechanisms." Contrast can arise from position-to-position differences in the thickness or density ("mass-thickness contrast"), atomic number ("Z contrast," referring to the common abbreviation Z for atomic number), crystal structure or orientation ("crystallographic contrast" or "diffraction contrast"), the slight quantum-mechanical phase shifts that individual atoms produce in electrons that pass through them ("phase contrast"), the energy lost by electrons on passing through the sample ("spectrum imaging") and more. Each mechanism tells the user a different kind of information, depending not only on the contrast mechanism but on how the microscope is used—the settings of lenses, apertures, and detectors. What this means is that a TEM is capable of returning an extraordinary variety of nanometer- and atomic-resolution information, in ideal cases revealing not only where all the atoms are but what kinds of atoms they are and how they are bonded to each other. For this reason TEM is regarded as an essential tool for nanoscience in both biological and materials fields.

The first TEM was demonstrated by Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska in 1931, with this group developing the first TEM with resolution greater than that of light in 1933 and the first commercial TEM in 1939. In 1986, Ruska was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for the development of transmission electron microscopy.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.