Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Abbe, Ernst (1840-1905)

Abbe, Ernest is German physicist who specialized in optical lenses and made many important improvements. Born in Eisenach (now in Germany), he became professor at the University of Jena in 1870, and in 1878 director of the astronomical and meteorological observatories there.

Abbe turned an empirical art into a science and incidentally, made a fortune for Carl Zeiss, with whom he collaborated.

In 1860s, Abbe studied the resolution limit and manufacturing process of microscopes. He developed instruments for measuring refractive indices of glass and a focometer to control the performance of the optical workshop.

He is known Abbe sine condition – a necessary condition for the elimination of spherical aberration in an optical system; such a system he described as aplanatic.

From his work he founded the diffraction theory of optical imaging, from which modern optical imaging techniques have developed.

He also invented the apochromatic lens system in 1886, which eliminated both primary and secondary color distortion.

With the help of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, he established additional professorships for physics and mathematics, including one devoted exclusively to microscopy.
Abbe, Ernst (1840-1905)
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