Rudolf Mossbauer was a German physicist who discovered the Mossbauer Effect and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1961 for his work. He was the first to demonstrate recoilless nuclear resonance absorption, or the emission of gamma rays by radioactive nuclei of crystalline solids without recoil, and the way these released rays are subsequently absorbed by other nuclei, in an experimental setting. The discovery, later known as the Mossbauer Effect, was essential in the field of physics since it was used to test Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and to aid in the measurement of magnetic fields in atomic nuclei. Mossbauer Spectroscopy, which has been widely employed in biological sciences, nuclear physics, inorganic and structural chemistry, solid state studies, and other related subjects, is based on it. Mossbauer’s discovery aided in the investigation of atomic nuclei’s energy levels and how they were affected by their surroundings and diverse occurrences. Mossbauer, on the other hand, did not limit his research and study to recoilless nuclear resonance fluorescence. He investigated electroweak theory, neutrinos, neutrons, and the conversion of hydrogen into helium near the conclusion of his career.
Childhood and Adolescence
Rudolf Mossbauer was born in Munich, Germany, on January 31, 1929, to Ludwig and Ernest Mossbauer. He was the couple’s only child. His father worked as a photo technician, producing color postcards and photo reproductions.
Mossbauer had his early schooling at Munich-Oberschule. Pasing’s In 1948, he received his diploma from the same institution. Mossbauer’s plans to obtain further education appeared tough to achieve because Germany was still reeling from the repercussions of World War II.
He obtained work as an optical assistant at the Rodenstock optical factory in Münich after finishing his secondary education. He then worked for the United States Army of Occupation. In 1949, he enrolled at the Munich Technical University to study physics, having saved money from both jobs.
Mossbauer got his basic diploma or B.S. degree from the institute in 1952, and his M.S. degree three years later.
Rudolf Mossbauer’s Career
Mossbauer began his career as an assistant lecturer at the Institute of Mathematics after graduating from Munich Technical University. Between 1953 and 1954, he worked on his thesis at the Munich Technical University’s Laboratory for Applied Physics.
Mossbauer worked on his dissertation for his doctorate degree from 1955 to 1957. At the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, he conducted a series of studies. Mossbauer initially noticed the phenomena of Recoilless Nuclear Resonance Absorption while working on his thesis at the Max Planck Institute.
He was the first to present direct experimental evidence of the Recoilless Nuclear Resonance Absorption in 1958. When atomic nuclei recoil when emitting gamma rays, the wavelength of the emission varies with the degree of recoil, which is unusual. However, he discovered that a nucleus could be lodged in a crystal lattice that absorbed its rebound at low temperatures through his experiment. This breakthrough allowed for the production of gamma rays with particular wavelengths.
The discovery of Recoilless Nuclear Resonance Absorption by Mossbauer was monumental. It was crucial in confirming Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and greatly aided in the measurement of atomic nuclei’s magnetic fields.
Mossbauer earned his doctorate from the Munich Technical University in 1958, studying under Professor Maier-Leibnitz. He was hired as a scientific assistant at Munich Technical University the following year.
Mossbauer accepted a scholarship to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena in 1960. As a research fellow and eventually, as a senior research fellow, he continued his studies into gamma absorption there. He was appointed Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology in 1961.
Mossbauer’s celebrity skyrocketed throughout the 1960s. His finding, which became known as the Mossbauer Effect, was widely used. This effect was exploited by Robert Pound and Glen Rebka to demonstrate the redshift of gamma radiation in the Earth’s gravitational field. Mössbauer spectroscopy, which was applied in biological sciences, nuclear physics, inorganic and structural chemistry, solid-state studies, and several other related fields, reflected the Mössbauer effect’s long-term importance.
In 1964, he returned to Munich Technical University as a full-time professor, a position he held until 1997 when he was named Professor Emeritus.
Mossbauer took over as Director of the Institut Laue-Langevin at Grenoble in 1972, following Heinz Maier-Leibnitz. Before returning to Munich, he spent five years in this job.
Mossbauer’s research focus switched to neutrino physics in his final years. He lectured on Neutrino Physics, Neutrino Oscillations, The Unification of Electromagnetic and Weak Interactions, and The Interaction of Photons and Neutrons With Matter, among other topics.
His Major Projects
Mossbauer’s most significant contributions were made near the end of the 1950s. He discovered recoilless nuclear resonance fluorescence while studying at Munich Technical University. When atomic nuclei emit gamma rays under normal conditions, they recoil, and the wavelength of the emission varies with the degree of recoil.
Mossbauer, on the other hand, discovered that a nucleus could be encased in a crystal lattice that absorbed its rebound at low temperatures. The Mössbauer effect was discovered, allowing for the production of gamma rays at specified wavelengths.
The Mossbauer Effect was first used to test Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and it was then used to measure the magnetic fields of atomic nuclei. Mossbauer spectroscopy, which has been widely employed in biological sciences, nuclear physics, inorganic and structural chemistry, solid-state studies, and other related domains, is based on it.
Achievements & Awards
Mossbauer was honored with the Research Corporation of America’s Science Award in 1960.
Mossbauer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1961 for his work on gamma-ray resonance absorption and the discovery of the Mossbauer Effect, which bears his name. He shared the honor with Robert Hofstadter, who was recognized for his groundbreaking research into electron scattering in atomic nuclei and the discoveries he made as a result.
He was awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit in 1962.
In 1974, he was awarded the Guthrie Medal by the Institute of Physics in London.
He was awarded the Soviet Academy of Sciences’ Lomonosov Gold Medal in 1984.
Personal History and Legacy
Mossbauer married twice in his life. He married Elisabeth Pritz for the first time, and they had a daughter named Suzi. Later in life, he married Christel Braun. She gave birth to two children for him: a son named Peter and a daughter named Regine.
On September 14, 2011, in Grunwald, Germany, he passed away.
Estimated Net Worth