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Ernst Ruska, a German physicist and academician, is best known for making the electron microscope, which is one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. He was one of the first people to study electron optics, and in 1986, he was given half of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work. He was the son of a professor, and as a young student he became very interested in technology. He went to the Technical University of Munich and then to the Technical University of Berlin. As a student, he started doing the research that led to the creation of the electron microscope. He got his PhD the same year he built his first electron microscope and kept doing research in the field. He also worked with his brother, who was a doctor and came up with ways to use the electron microscope in medicine and biology. In addition to being a well-known physicist, he was also a well-respected professor of electron optics and microscopy, a job he held until he retired. As a well-known physicist, he won the Duddell Medal and Prize, the Robert Koch Prize, and the Nobel Prize in physics for his work. During his time in school, he helped write a number of books, articles, and scientific papers about electron optics.

Early years and childhood

Ernst August Friedrich Ruska was born in Heidelberg, German Empire, on December 25, 1906. His parents, Professor Julius Ruska and his wife Elisabeth were both professors. He was the fifth of his parents’ seven children.

He went to grammar school in Heidelberg when he was young. After he finished grammar school, he went to the Technical College in Munich from 1925 to 1927 to study electronics. After that, he went to the Technical University of Berlin and graduated in 1931 with a degree as an electrical engineer.

In 1931, he got his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and then went to the Berlin Institute of Technology to get his Ph.D. In 1933, he earned his Ph.D. He wrote about electron optics and electron microscopy for his dissertation.

Ernst Ruska’s Career

His first finished scientific work was a mathematical and experimental proof of “Busch’s theory” about what happens when an electric current flows through a coil of wire with a magnetic field. This happened in 1929, and it led to the creation of the “polschuh lens,” which is now used in all high-resolution magnetic electron microscopes.

Ruska made an early version of the electron microscope in 1931. He did this with the help of Dr. Max Knoll. Before he made his invention, the field of optics was limited because it couldn’t study things with smaller wavelengths than visible light.

He made more changes to the microscope and made a better one in 1933. This one was ten times stronger than optical microscopes of the time. In this microscope, he sent electrons through a very thin slice of the object he was looking at. The electrons were then deflected onto photographic film or a fluorescent screen, making a picture that could be blown up very large.

During his time at the Technical College of Berlin, he worked at the Institute of High Voltage on high voltage and vacuum technology. He worked for Fernseh Corporation in Berlin and helped make a high-performance cathode-ray oscilloscope.

In 1937, he became an electrical engineer at Siemens-Reiniger-Werke AG and also taught at the Technical University of Berlin. In 1939, he made the first customized electron microscope at Siemens. It was called the Siemens Super Microscope.

With his encouragement, Siemens set up a visiting institute for research work to be carried out using electron microscopy, in 1940. The laboratory was headed by Helmut Ruska, his brother who was a medical doctor. By the end of 1944, the institute had published more than 400 papers with the help of scientists from Germany and other countries.

In 1945, he and his colleagues put back together with the “Institute of Electron Optics,” which had been destroyed by a bomb in Berlin-Siemensstadt. By 1949, there were a lot of electron microscopes on the market because of this.

Between August 1947 and December 1948, he worked as a faculty member of medicine and biology at the “German Academy of Sciences” in Berlin-Buch. He was the Head of Department at the “Fritz Haber Institute” of the Max Planck Society in Berlin-Dahlem in 1949. He worked at these institutions to further the development of the electron microscope.

He became a member of the ‘Max Planck Society’ in 1954 and gave up his position at Siemens the following year. In 1957, the Society made him the head of its “Institute of Electron Microscopy.”

In 1959, he agreed to work as a professor of electron optics and electron microscopy at the Technical University of Berlin. He stayed in that job until 1974 when he retired.

In 1986, 55 years after it was invented, the electron microscope and its many uses in medicine, neurology, bacteriology, biology, chemistry, and physics won him the “Nobel Prize in Physics.”

Works of note

Before 1931, optical microscopes couldn’t deal with wavelengths that were shorter than the wavelength of visible light. In the 1920s, it was found that the waves of electrons are shorter than those of light. This is how Ruska came up with the idea for the “electron microscope.” This invention made it possible to study things that could be enlarged and looked at closely.

Awards & Achievements

The “Senckenberg Prize” from the University of Frankfurt am Main was his first big award. It was given to him in 1939 as a tribute to his work and contributions.

The Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research was given to Ernst Ruska in 1960. In 1975, in London, he was given the Duddell Medal and the Institute of Physics Prize for his work.

In 1986, 55 years after he invented the “electron microscope,” the Nobel committee gave him the “Nobel Prize in Physics” for his work in electron optics. He got half of the prize, and Dr. Gerd Binnig and Dr. Heinrich Rohrer each got the other half for designing the “Scanning Tunneling Microscope.”

Personal History and Legacies

In 1937, Ernst Ruska got married to Irmela Ruth Geigis. They had three children together: two boys and a girl.
He died in West Berlin, Germany, on May 27, 1988. He was 81 years old.

Estimated Net worth

Ernst is one of the wealthiest and most well-known physicists. Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider all say that Ernst Ruska has a net worth of about $1.5 million.


His best-known work, the electron microscope, was made 55 years before he won the Nobel Prize. He was shocked when he got it, but he said he should have known he would win 40 years ago.