Erwin Mueller was a much-admired and respected member of the Penn State Department of Physics from 1952 to 1977. His work was given the highest recognition when he was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1977. He studied physics at the Technical University in Berlin under Gustav Hertz and obtained his doctoral degree in 1936. His habilitation was granted by the same university in 1950. Prior to the appointment at Penn State, he held research positions at Siemens Research Laboratory, Stabilovolt Company, Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry, the Technical University in Berlin, and the Free University of West Berlin.
His first major achievement was the invention of the field emission microscope in 1936. This enabled him to image the surface of submicroscopic metal tips with a resolution of about 20 Å. For the first time, diffusion and rearrangement of surface layers could be seen vividly. The direct observations made possible with this instrument were important, as the understanding of various atomic processes on solid surfaces grew. In 1951 he invented the field ion microscope, capable of giving a resolution of 2.5 Å. This provided the first sharp, clear view of crystals on an atomic scale, showing the individual atoms and their arrangement on the surface. For this achievement he became famous as the first person to "see" atoms. In 1967 he once again significantly advanced microscopy with the invention of the atom-probe field ion microscope. This instrument can aim at a single atom in a crystal surface, separate it from the surrounding atoms, and identify it by its mass. The precision clearly distinguished different isotopes of elements.
His achievements were recognized by numerous awards, including the Davisson-Germer Prize of the American Physical Society and the C. F. Gauss Medal, Braunschweig, Germany. He held honorary doctoral degrees from the Free University of Berlin and from the Claude-Bernard University of Lyon. He was an elected and honorary member of many scientific societies, including the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Sciences.
|Mueller Lecture: The composite fermion of the half-filled Landau level||11 February 2016 04:00 PM||117 Osmond Laboratory||Dam Son, University of Chicago|
|Mueller Lecture: High Temperature Superconductivity – Insights from Einstein’s Electrons||02 April 2015 04:00 PM||117 Osmond Laboratory||Zhixun Shen, Stanford University|
|Guessing the Rule for Nature's Glue in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology||07 February 2013 04:00 PM||117 Osmond||Mueller Lecture by John Perdew (Tulane University)|
|A Realistic Formulation of Quantum Mechanics||22 March 2012 04:00 PM||117 Osmond||Mueller Lecture by Pierre Hohenberg from New York University|
|Molecular Beam Epitaxy-Scanning Tunneling Microscopy||31 March 2011 04:00 PM||117 Osmond||Mueller Lecture by Qikun Xue|
|Quantum Computers and Raising Schrödinger’s Cat||04 March 2010 04:00 PM||117 Osmond Laboratory||Mueller Lecture by David Wineland (National Institute of Standards and Technology)|
|Quantum Networks||23 April 2009 04:00 PM||117 Osmond Laboratory||Mueller Lecture by Jeff Kimble (Caltech)|
|What Has Quantum Mechanics to do with Factoring? Things I Wish They Had Told Me About Shor's Algorithm||18 March 2008 04:00 PM||117 Osmond Laboratory||Mueller Lecture Lecture by N. David Mermin Horace White Professor of Physics Emeritus from Cornell University|
|Intermediate Electronic Phases: Between the Fermi Liquid and the Wigner Crystal||19 April 2007 04:00 PM||117 Osmond Laboratory||Mueller Lecture by Steven Kivelson (Stanford University)|
|Artificially Induced 2D and 3D Potentials Acting on 3D Soft Vortex Matter||01 May 2003 04:00 PM||117 Osmond Laboratory||Mueller Lecture by Francisco de la Cruz (Bariloche)|
|Mueller Lecture: What is Life - A Historical Perspective||14 February 2001 08:00 PM||117 Osmond Laboratory||Colloquium by Albert Libchaber (Rockefeller University, New York)|