James Hillier dies

National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee co-developed the electron microscope, earning him 1960's Lasker award for basic medical research

Kirsten Weir
Jan 24, 2007
James Hillier, a physicist who helped to invent the first practical electron microscope and sought ways to make it useful to biologists, died January 15 after suffering a stroke. He was 91.Hillier's first electron microscope magnified objects 7,000 times -- more than triple the magnification offered by existing optical microscopes at the time. "The electron microscope revolutionized the way we understand how things are put together," Jon Norenburg, president-elect of the American Microscopical Society, told The Scientist. "It's like taking another quantum leap past the light microscope."Hillier and collaborator Albert Prebus developed the microscope while graduate students at the University of Toronto, building on the work of Ernst Ruska and his colleagues in Berlin. Hillier liked to think of himself as "the problem solver to get [the German concept] to work," his son, J. Robert Hillier, told The Scientist. One early setback in the microscope's development, said...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?