magnetite surface with single gold atoms

© Michael Schmid/IAP

IAP Surface Physics – Since the 1980s

History of our Group

Peter Varga (1946–2018)


The Surface Physics Group was founded by Peter Varga (1946–2018; CV, opens a file in a new window · publication list, opens a file in a new window · obituary, opens a file in a new window), who gained highest reputation in the Surface Science community not only for excellent research but also for his high social intelligence, sharp thought and his services to the community. Originally rooted in ion-surface interaction and low-energy ion scattering, the group started with scanning tunneling microscopy in the early 1990s and quickly became one of the leading groups in STM studies of metal surfaces. In 2010, Ulrike Diebold took the professorship in Surface Science at the TU and soon became group leader. Under her highly successful leadership, the group moved from oxidized metals to oxides, and the size and the output of the group grew substantially. As Ulrike became vice president of the Austrian Acedemy of Sciences in 2022, she handed over the group lead to Gareth Parkinson. Nevertheless, she is still highly active as a scientist in our group!