Schrödinger, Erwin (1887–1961)

Erwin Schrodinger

Erwin Schrödinger played a principal part in the mathematical development of the modern model of the atom. He developed wave mechanics from de Broglie's picture of wave-particle duality.

Erwin Schrödinger was an Austrian theoretical physicist who first developed the version of quantum mechanics known as wave mechanics. In 1926, he put into mathematical form the revolutionary idea of the French physicist Louis Victor de Broglie that the motion of material particles is guided by so-called pilot waves. The formulation of the famous Schrödinger equation put quantum theory on a strict mathematical basis, and provided the foundation for its further rapid expansion. For this work, Schrödinger shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Paul Dirac. Eventually it was shown that Schrödinger's wave mechanics were equivalent to the matrix mechanics of Werner Heisenberg.


In later years, Schrödinger concerned himself with the extension of Einstein's general theory of relativity to include electrical and magnetic phenomena. He also became interested in fundamental biology, and published a short, popular book, What Is Life? (1945). In this book, he attempted to explain the phenomena of life on the basis of purely physical concepts.


Schrödinger was born in Vienna, and in 1910 received his Ph.D. from the university there. He served as a professor of theoretical physics in several universities in German and Switzerland. He was also associated for many years with the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.