Professor Heinrich Rohrer was born in Buchs, St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 1933 and received his bachellor’s degree (1955) and Ph.D. in experimental physics (1960) from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he studied length changes of superconductors in the magnetic field induced superconducting transition. In 1961, he carried out post-doctoral research on thermal conductivity of type II superconductors and metals at Rutgers University in New Jersey, U.S.A. In 1963, he joined IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich where he first studied kondo systems and antiferromagnets, before turning his attention to scanning tunneling microscopy. He also spent one-year sabattical leave at the University of California in Santa Barbara studying nuclear magnetic resonance.
In 1981, Binnig and Rohrer made their brilliant invention of the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM), an instrument so sensitive that it can distinguish individual atoms. The STM is now widely used both in industrial and fundamental research to obtain atomic scale images of metal and other surfaces. It has since been useful in fields as diverse as conducting materials, metallurgy, electrochemistry and molecular biology. The microscope also provided a vital tool in the field of nanotechnology, a promising new science of characterizing structures from the atomic scale (0.3 nm) to around 100 nanometers.
In addition to being a co-recipient (with Binnig) of the King Faisal International Prize for Science, the Hewlett Packard Europhysics Prize in 1984 and the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986, Rohrer was also awarded the Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, USA and was inducted to the US National Inventors Hall of Fame. He is a member or honorary member of several professional societies and academies, and the recipient of honorary degrees from several universities.
Professor Rohrer retired in 1997. He currently undertakes research assignments at the Center of Biological Investigations (CISC), Madrid, and Riken, Japan. He died in 2013.
The two research works which he-published with Dr. Heinrich Rohrer at to the award of the King Faisal International Prize of the year 1404H., 1983 A.D. are:
- Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Surface Scierce 126, (1983) P 236-244.
- 7 x 7 Reconstruction on Si (III) Resolved in Real Space. Phy. Rev. Lett. 50, (1983) P 120-123.