Today we celebrate the life and work of Ernst Ruska, who died on 27 May 1988 at age 81.
Ruska, a German electrical engineer, was the inventor of the electron microscope. His fundamental research in the field of electron optics, and particularly his groundbreaking design of the electron microscope, earned him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1986.
In 1928, Ruska discovered that a magnetic coil could be used as a lens to focus an electron beam. By adding a second lens he produced the first rudimentary electron microscope, which had a magnification power of x17. Within the next 5 years, he refined the concept to such an extent that the magnification power of his microscope increased to x7000. This exceeded what was possible with visible light. The first commercial electron microscope was marketed in 1939. Since then, the technology has found applications in biology, medicine and many other areas of science.