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Gerd Binnig


Gerd Binnig (Photo: Peter Bagde).

Gerd Binnig is a German physicist and Nobel Laureate. He studied at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, where in 1978 he obtained his PhD for work on superconductivity with Hans Eckhardt Hoenig, in the group of Werner Martienssen.

Immediately after his PhD he moved to Zürich, where he became a research staff member at IBM. In collaboration with Heinrich Rohrer and other colleagues including Christoph Gerber and Edmund Weibel, in 1981 he developed the scanning tunnelling microscope. In recognition of this work, Binnig and Rohrer were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986.

Between 1985 and 1988, Binnig was based in California, working at IBM in Almaden and at Stanford University, where he had a visiting professorship. It was during this period that he involved his IBM colleague Christoph Gerber and Stanford Professor Calvin Quate in realizing his idea of the atomic force microscope.

When he returned to Europe he was awarded an honorary professorship at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, where he directed an IBM laboratory until 1995. In 1994 he founded Definiens, a company dedicated to developing advanced processing tools for maximizing the information that can be gathered from images, with particular use for applications in medical diagnostics.

Aside from the Nobel Prize in Physics, Binnig’s work has been recognized with an IBM fellowship, as well as a number of other prizes including the German Physics Prize, the Otto Klung Prize, the Hewlett Packard Prize and the King Faisal Prize.

Life story: Gerd Binnig

Gerd Binnig giving a lecture at the 2016 Kavli Prize Week (Photo: Thomas Eckhoff).

The first atomic force microscope, 1985. Made by Calvin Quate and Gerd Binnig of Stanford University, and Christoph Gerber of IBM Research. Photo: Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images.

Read the life story of Kavli Prize Laureate Gerd Binnig – in his own words:

Changing Our View of the Nanoscale World


Gerd Binnig had a Eureka! moment.

Atomic Force Microscopy: The 2016 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience