The introduction of the electron microscope in the 1930s enabled the visual confirmation that virus particles actually existed for the first time and were separate individual “living” entities. The new technology advances of electron microscopes at that time period, in particular those manufactured by Siemens in Germany and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) enabled the routine imaging of biological tissues and cells. Further advances allowed the detailed identification and characterization of viruses, as better techniques and more powerful microscopes were developed. Electron microscopic imaging was now in a dramatic new way completely beyond the capabilities of light microscopy.
The electron microscope was invented by Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska in 1931, although there were many researchers working on the development of electron microscopes. Ernst Ruska was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1986 for his invention. (The other half of the Nobel Prize was divided between Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig for the STM.)
Over the years electron microscopes became more powerful in terms of resolution and by the 1970s atomic structure imaging was routinely possible. By the end of the 1990s sub-Ångstrom resolution was realized following on with the development of commercial aberration correctors. Higher power in terms resolution has been the typical benchmark by which to measure the development of the electron microscope both for the SEM and the TEM; however, with ...