German physicist who was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery of the Mössbauer effect.
Mössbauer was educated at the Munich Technische Hochschule, where he gained his doctorate in 1959. In 1956, while working for his doctorate, Mössbauer made the observations that led to the formation of his effect. When a gamma ray is emitted by an atomic nucleus, normally the recoil of the atom affects the wavelength of the emission. Mössbauer found, however, that, at very low temperatures the nucleus is locked into the crystal lattice and the recoil is spread over the whole lattice, with a negligible effect on the wavelength of the emission. In 1960 the effect was used to provide experimental confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity. It has also been widely used in spectrographic work (Mössbauer spectroscopy).
After completing his doctoral studies in Munich, Mössbauer moved to the California Institute of Technology, where he was professor of physics (1962–64). He has since held a similar post in Munich, apart from five years (1972–77) when he worked in Grenoble as director of the Max von Laue Institute and the German-French-British High Flux Reactor.
Subjects: Science and Mathematics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).