Frits Zernike (; 16 July 1888 – 10 March 1966) was a Dutch physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics
in 1953 for his invention of the phase-contrast microscope
Early life and education
Frits Zernike was born on 16 July 1888 in Amsterdam
, Netherlands to Carl Friedrich August Zernike and Antje Dieperink. Both parents were teachers of mathematics, and he especially shared his father's passion for physics. He studied chemistry (his major), mathematics and physics at the University of Amsterdam
In 1912, he was awarded a prize for his work on opalescence
in gases. In 1913, he became the assistant of Jacobus Kapteyn
at the astronomical laboratory of Groningen University
. In 1914, Zernike and Leonard Ornstein
were jointly responsible for the derivation of the Ornstein–Zernike equation
in critical-point theory. In 1915, he obtained a position in theoretical physics
at the same university and in 1920 he was promoted to full professor of theoretical physics
In 1930, Zernike was conducting research into spectral line
s when he discovered that the so-called ''ghost lines'' that occur to the left and right of each primary line in spectra
created by means of a diffraction grating
, have their phase shifted from that of the primary line by 90 degrees. It was at a Physical and Medical Congress in Wageningen
in 1933, that Zernike first described his phase contrast technique in microscopy. He extended his method to test the figure of concave mirrors. His discovery lay at the base of the first phase contrast microscope, built during World War II.
He also made another contribution in the field of optics, relating to the efficient description of the imaging defects or aberrations of optical imaging systems
s and telescope
s. The representation of aberrations was originally based on the theory developed by Ludwig Seidel
in the middle of the nineteenth century. Seidel's
representation was based on power series
expansions and did not allow a clear separation between various types and orders of aberrations. Zernike's orthogonal circle polynomials
provided a solution to the long-standing problem of the optimum 'balancing' of the various aberrations of an optical instrument. Since the 1960s, Zernike's circle polynomials
are widely used in optical design
, optical metrology
and image analysis
Zernike's work helped awaken interest in coherence theory
, the study of partially coherent light sources. In 1938 he published a simpler derivation of Van Cittert's 1934 theorem on the coherence of radiation from distant sources, now known as the Van Cittert–Zernike theorem
He died in the hospital at Amersfoort
, Netherlands in 1966 after suffering illness the last years of his life. His granddaughter is journalist Kate Zernike
Honours and awards
In 1946, Zernike became member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
In 1953, Zernike won the Nobel Prize in Physics
, for his invention of the phase-contrast microscope
, an instrument that permits the study of internal cell
structure without the need to stain
and thus kill the cells.
In 1954, Zernike became an Honorary Member of The Optical Society (OSA). Zernike was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society
The university complex to the north of the city of Groningen
is named after him (Zernike park), as is the crater Zernike
on the Moon.
Zernike's great-nephew Gerard 't Hooft
won the Nobel Prize in Physics
The Oz Enterprise, a Linux distribution
, was named after Leonard Ornstein
and Frederik Zernike.
* Leonard Ornstein
* Coherence theory
* Fourier optics
* Live cell imaging
* Optical aberration
* Phase-contrast X-ray imaging
* Physical optics
Frits Zernike Photo
* including his Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1953 ''How I discovered phase contrast''
Extended Nijboer–Zernike theory
* Museum BoerhaavNegen Nederlandse Nobelprijswinnaars
* H. Brinkman''Zernike, Frits (1888–1966)''
in Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland.
* Prominente Groningse hooglerare''Frits Zernike (1888–1966)''
biography at the National library of the Netherlands.
Multilevel wavelet solver for the Ornstein-Zernike equation AbstractAnalytical solution of the Ornstein-Zernike equation for a multicomponent fluid
Category:Dutch Nobel laureates
Category:Foreign Members of the Royal Society
Category:Members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Category:Nobel laureates in Physics
Category:Scientists from Amsterdam
Category:University of Amsterdam alumni
Category:University of Groningen faculty