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Erwin Wilhelm Müller (or Mueller) (July 11, 1911, in Berlin – May 17, 1977, in Washington D.C.) was a German physicist who invented the Field Emission Electron Microscope (FEEM), the Field Ion Microscope (FIM), and the Atom-Probe Field Ion Microscope. He was the first person to experimentally observe atoms[1].

Müller studied at the Technical University in Berlin under Gustav Hertz. He received his degree in engineering in 1935 and his doctorate in 1936. Müller worked at the Siemens Research Laboratory, where he invented the field emission microscope in 1936 that allowed resolutions of 2 nanometers.

Müller married Klara Thüssing in 1939, and their only daughter Jutta was born in 1940. He survived the firebombing of Dresden in 1944. Due to the circumstances of war, he also worked at the Stabilovolt Company.

In 1947, he was appointed to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry (renamed to Fritz-Haber-Institut on the occasion of its incorporation into the Max Planck Society in 1953) by Iwan N. Stranski. Here he developed the field ion microscope which, due to its resolution of 0.25 nm, was the first instrument used to observe atoms.

In 1950, he took a teaching appointment at the Technical University in Berlin after finally having completed the required Privatdozent (habilitation). In 1951, he became professor at the Free University Berlin.

Müller joined the faculty at Pennsylvania State University in 1952, where he remained until his death in 1977. He invented the Atom-Probe Field Ion Microscope at Penn State in 1967.



  1. ^ Mitch Jacoby, "Atomic Imaging Turns 50", Chemical & engineering News, 83:48, pp 13-16, 28 November 2005

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