Fric Zernike

Fric Zernike

Dutch physicist, Nobel laureate.
Date of Birth: 16.07.1888
Country: Netherlands

Biography of Fritz Zernike

Fritz Zernike was a Dutch physicist and Nobel laureate. He is credited with the invention of phase-contrast microscopes, which have become widely popular among biologists. These microscopes allow the study of cells without the need for prior staining of cultures. Zernike was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Carl Frederick August Zernike and Antje Dieperink. Both of his parents were mathematics teachers, but his father also had a passion for physics, which Zernike inherited. He studied mathematics, physics, and chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, where he received a special award in 1912 for his research on the luminescence of gases. In 1913, Zernike became an assistant to Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn at the astronomical laboratory of Groningen University. In 1914, he collaborated with Leonard Salomon Ornstein to create the Ornstein-Zernike equation for the theory of critical points. Zernike became a research physicist in 1915 and a full professor of theoretical physics in 1920. In 1930, Zernike studied spectral lines and discovered the phenomenon of "ghost lines" that appeared on either side of the main lines due to the phase-shifting effect of diffraction gratings. In 1933, he presented the first version of his phase-contrast microscopy method at a congress in Wageningen. During World War II, Zernike refined his invention, and the first phase-contrast microscope was created based on his theories. Zernike also made significant contributions to the field of optical defects or aberrations. His model, based on orthogonal polynomials instead of power series expansions, provided a more accurate classification of different types of aberrations. Zernike's polynomials have been widely used in optical design, metrology, and image analysis. Zernike's work sparked interest among his colleagues in the theory of coherence and the study of partially coherent light sources. In 1938, he published a simple derivation of van Cittert's theorem, now known as the van Cittert-Zernike theorem. In his later years, Zernike suffered from a severe illness and passed away in 1966 in Amersfoort, Netherlands. He received numerous awards and honors for his scientific achievements, including being a foreign member of the Royal Society. Zernike's Erdős number was 6, and several places and landmarks were named in his honor, including a university complex north of Groningen and a lunar crater. His most prestigious accolade was the Nobel Prize in Physics, which he received in 1953 for his development of the phase-contrast method and the invention of the phase-contrast microscope. Interestingly, Zernike's grandnephew, Gerardus 't Hooft, also received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1999.

Fric Zernike

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