Klaus von Klitzing

Biography

Klaus von Klitzing was born on June 28, 1943, in Schroda, Posen. When Posen fell to Poland, the family had to escape, and the refugees came to Lower Saxony. In Quakenbrück, von Klitzing received his qualification for university entrance in 1962, beginning to study Physics at Technical University Braunschweig. He completed his studies with a diploma in 1969.

Then he moved on to Würzburg, working for Professor Landwehr up to 1980. He completed his doctoral degree in 1972 and habilitated in 1978. From 1975 to 1978, he worked at Oxford, and from 1979 to 1980, he was employed at the High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Grenoble, Switzerland. It was there that he made his decisive discovery for the Quantum-Hall Effect. In 1980, von Klitzing was appointed to the Technical University at Munich, moving on to the Max Planck Institute for Solid Body State Research in 1985. The same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for the Quantum-Hall Effect and was appointed Honorary Professor of Physics at the University of Stuttgart, where he has been doing research to this day.

Research/Nobel Prize

"It was the night between February 4 and 5 in 1980, around two in the morning, at the High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Grenoble, when we suddenly hit on the idea that our experimental findings had to be interpreted in a new way …," Klitzing wrote once. This new approach led to the discovery of the Quantum-Hall Effect. The new insight von Klitzing derived was that the measuring unit for electrical resistance (Ohm) is precisely determined by the Planck Constant h and the charge of the electron e, which makes it a universal natural constant. This Von Klitzing Constant provides a globally unified and highly precise reference value for measuring resistance.

Working and Living in Würzburg

Von Klitzing lived at Nikolaus-Fey-Strasse 12 in Veitshöchheim, a suburb of Würzburg, where a memorial plaque honors his achievements. In Würzburg, he liked to attend the Night Music events of the Mozart Festival, and even today he remains fond of a good glass of Franconian wine.