Erwin Wilhelm Müller

Erwin Wilhelm Müller ( born June 13, 1911 in Berlin, † 17 May 1977 in Washington, USA ) was a German - American physicist. He is considered the first person to "see" an atom has.


Müller studied physics at the Technical University of Charlottenburg with Gustav Hertz and his doctorate in 1936. His habilitation he achieved as a result of the turmoil of the Second World War until the year 1950 ( also at the TU Berlin).

He had several positions at Siemens AG, at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, and after the war at the Free University of Berlin.

His first major successes achieved Müller with the invention of the electron field in 1936. The device allowed the study of metal surfaces with a resolution of about 20 Å. For the first time were able to diffusion processes and restructuring of surfaces are observed. Subsequently, researchers have received many further insights on atomic processes on solid surfaces.

1947 brought him Ivan Stranski at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry (later Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society) in Berlin- Dahlem, where he in 1951 the first field ion microscope constructed, the resolutions up to could deliver 2.5 Å. Thus, one could first get clear, sharp images of crystals at the atomic level, where you could see individual atoms and their arrangement on the surface. Müller was the first person who could "see" an atom.

In 1951 he became a professor at the Free University of Berlin.

Since 1952, he taught and conducted research at the Pennsylvania State University in the United States. Erwin Wilhelm Müller died on 17 May 1977 in Washington, DC