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My Life With Erwin: The Beginning of an Atom-Probe Legacy

  • John A. Panitz (a1)


The atom-probe field ion microscope was introduced in 1967 at the 14th Field Emission Symposium held at the National Bureau of Standards (now, NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The atom-probe field ion microscope was, and remains, the only instrument capable of determining “the nature of one single atom seen on a metal surface and selected from neighboring atoms at the discretion of the observer”. The development of the atom-probe is a story of an instrument that one National Science Foundation (NSF) reviewer called “impossible because single atoms could not be detected”. It is also a story of my life with Erwin Wilhelm Müller as his graduate student in the Field Emission Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University in the late 1960s and his strong and volatile personality, perhaps fostered by his pedigree as Gustav Hertz’s student in the Berlin of the 1930s. It is the story that has defined by scientific career.


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Author for correspondence: John A. Panitz, E-mail:


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My Life With Erwin: The Beginning of an Atom-Probe Legacy

  • John A. Panitz (a1)


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