King Faisal Prize

Gerd Binnig is a German physicist known for the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope which earned him a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. He also invented the atomic force microscope, which helped to develop the new field of microscopy. Born in Frankfurt, West Germany, shortly after ending of the World War II, he grew up playing among demolished buildings as a young boy. He loved science from the very beginning and was just ten years old when he decided to become a physicist.

In recognition of this work, Binnig and Rohrer were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. In 1984 Binnig joined the IBM Physics Group in Munich, moving to IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, from 1985-86, and was a visiting professor at nearby Stanford University from 1987-88. Binnig was appointed an IBM Fellow in 1987, the company’s highest honour for technical and scientific achievement. In 1989 he published the book Aus dem Nichts (Out of Nothing), which argued that creativity grows from disorder. In 1990 he joined the Supervisory Board of the Daimler Benz Holding and in 1994, with science journalist Dieter Herold, he set up Definiens AG, initially as a research institute.

Detection of the cantilever’s vertical movement was done with a second tip – an STM placed above the cantilever. Topography imaging alone does not always provide the answers that researchers need and the surface topology often does not correlate to the material properties.

Scanning Tunneling Microscopy

They play a central role for science and technology on the nanometer scale and will allow us to build systems of the same complexity as used by nature, which has built life on nanofunctionality. The development of the family of scanning probe microscopes started with the original invention of the STM in 1981. Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer developed the first working STM while working at IBM Zurich Research Laboratories in Switzerland. This instrument would later win Binnig and Rohrer the Nobel prize in physics in 1986. The scanning tunneling microscope is used to obtain atomic-scale images of metal surfaces.

Since 1978, he has been a research staff member of the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, interrupted by a sabbatical at the IBM Almaden Research Center (1985-86) and a guest professorship at Stanford University (1985-88). From 1987 to 1995, he headed an IBM Physics group at the University of Munich, from which he received an honorary professorship in 1987. For the development of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), which he invented together with Heinrich Rohrer, he received numerous awards including the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986.

Along one of the principal axes, line dislocations are visible in the topography. Small terraces formed by double-atomic steps are discerned. Chemically polished Ag(100) electrodes with and without lead adsorbates and phase deposits were investigated in situ in 0.5 M NaClO4 by Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), using a potentiostatic STM assembly.

No clear trigonal symmetry is observed for different samples and tips. Ordered and disordered regions are found and the atomic resolution persists even in the disordered areas.

Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer are the inventors of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM). Invented in 1981, the device provided the first images of individual atoms on the surfaces of materials.

An overview of the status of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) is given. So far, the method has been applied mainly to surface structures.

particular use for applications in medical diagnostics. In 1994 Binnig started his own company and named it Delphi Creative Technologies GmbH. The Munich-based firm, which eventually became Definiens Cognition Network Technology and is now a subsidiary of Definiens AG, develops knowledge-based systems. Binnig served as the company’s chief researcher and scientific coordinator.

Rohrer had been at the IBM lab since 1963 and also had a background in superconductivity. Together Binnig and Rohrer became interested in exploring the characteristics of the surface of materials.

Goethe University in Frankfurt and received a bachelor’s degree in 1973 as well as a doctorate five years later in 1978. The scanning tunneling microscope or STM is widely used in both industrial and fundamental research to obtain atomic scale images of metal surfaces. It provides a three-dimensional profile of the surface and provides useful information for characterizing surface roughness, observing surface defects and determining the size and conformation of molecules and aggregates. The duo began exploring the phenomenon of tunneling, a process through which electrons can tunnel through a vacuum from a sample solid surface to a sharp, needlelike probe. Their experiments using this method proved to be successful and they were able to design and build the first scanning tunneling microscope (STM).

A scanning tunneling microscope operating at cryogenic temperatures is described. Results from topographic and spectroscopic measurements are presented for surfaces of NbN and graphite at a temperature of 6.5 K.

scans the surface of the sample – with a minimal distance between its tip and the sample. Electrons “tunnel” across this gap. Since the tip of the needle often only consists of a single atom, images of atomic resolution become possible. The invention of the STM opened up opportunities in the most diverse applications – ranging from insights into the miniaturisation of electronic components and a better understanding of how batteries work to basic biological research. Binnig and Rohrer were recognized for developing the powerful microscopy technique that forms an image of individual atoms on a metal or semiconductor surface by scanning the tip of a needle over the surface at a height of only a few atomic diameters.

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