Knut Urban is a German physicist. He studied at the University of Stuttgart where he obtained his PhD in physics in 1972, before moving to the Max Planck Institute of Metals Research in Stuttgart.
In 1986 he was appointed a professor in materials properties at Erlangen–Nuremberg University, and just one year later became Chair of Experimental Physics at RWTH Aachen University and the Director of the Institute of Microstructure Research at Forschungszentrum, Jülich. During this period he collaborated with Harald Rose and Maximilian Haider to obtain the first aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy results, which were published in 1998.
Urban then worked on the application of aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy to materials science. In particular he focused on the connection between the precise arrangement of atoms within a lattice and the physical properties of a material.
In 2004 he was chosen as one of the directors of the Ernst Ruska Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons and since 2012 has been a JARA senior professor at RWTH Aachen University. Urban has been awarded a number of honours. These include the Von Hippel Award of the US Materials Research Society, and jointly with Rose and Haider, the Wolf Prize in Physics, the HONDA prize in Ecotechnology and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences. He is also an honorary member of several scientific bodies, including the US Materials Research Society, the German Physical Society and the Japanese Institute of Metals and Materials.
Photo: © Research Center Juelich