Akira Tonomura headshot

Akira Tonomura

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Akira Tonomura Passed Away at 70

May 2, 2012 (PO8); updated May 7, 2012 (PO8-1). Akira Tonomura of Hitachi Central Research Laboratory died of pancreatic cancer early on May 2, 2012, at a hospital in Hidaka, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. He was 70. Tonomura was best known for developing electron holography for observing microscopic structures in matter using the wave nature of electrons and confirming the so-called Aharonov-Bohm (AB) effect, the existence of which had long been disputed among physicists. He was tipped as a future Nobel Prize winner for years. The sad news above we cite after the online Kyodo News of May 2, 2012.

Tonomura was born on April 25th, 1942. He graduated from Tokyo University (1965) and obtained his two doctoral degrees from Nagoya (Engineering, 1975) and Gakushuin (Philosophy/Physics) Universities. Joined Hitachi in 1965 and performed part of his doctoral research at Tübingen University, Germany (1973-1974 under G. Möllenstedt). In 1999 he became Fellow of Hitachi, the most prestigious level attainable there by a scientist. In 2001 he became also the Group Director of Single Quantum Dynamics Research Group at RIKEN. From 2003 to 2005 he served as President of Japanese Society of Microscopy.

After being for some years a visiting professor at Toyo University, TIT and Denki University, he became Professor of Toyo University (2008-2010). In 2011 was appointed Professor of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University.

Tonomura was Fellow of numerous societies of which we mention here the Japanese Society of Appl. Phys., APS (from 1999), the Microscopy Society of America, Eur. Phys. Soc., Institute of Physics (UK, 2007) and of AAAS (USA, 2007). Of his many honors and awards we list here the Nishina Memorial Prize (1982), Asahi Prize (1987), Japan Academy Prize and Imperial Prize (1991), and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics (1999, USA). He became Member of Science Council of Japan (2005), Foreign Associate of Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science (2006), and Member of the Japan Academy in 2007.

Tonomura’s contributions to superconductivity started nearly a quarter of century ago when his group studied the AB effect and made the first single flux quantum observation by electron-holographic spectroscopy1. Subsequently, he and his group made real-time observations of vortex lattices in type II superconductors2 by Lorentz microscopy, and published multiple contribution on studies of such lattices and flux pinning in low- and high-Tc superconductors. The more complete overview of his numerous achievements in science can be found here.

1T. Matsuda et al., Phys. Rev. Lett.62 2519 (1989).

2K. Harada et al., Nature, 360 (1992).

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