German physicist Klaus von Klitzing discovers that when electrical conductors are subjected to strong magnetic fields and low temperatures, their resistance varies in discrete quantized jumps rather than in a smooth, continuous manner, a phenomenon known as the quantum Hall effect.
Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), which is based on the so-called tunneling current that begins flowing when a sharp tip approaches a conducting surface at a distance of about one nanometer, is invented.
The magnetic force microscope, a variant of the non contact atomic force microscope, is demonstrated for the first time. The instrument accomplishes magnetic resolution by the magnetostatic interaction between a ferromagnetic tip and a sample's stray micromagnetic fields.
For the first time, scientists achieve "high-temperature" superconductivity (above 77 degrees Kelvin) with a ceramic compound of yttrium, barium, copper and oxygen. Though the temperatures required to make YBCO superconductive are still quite low, they are high enough to be created with liquid nitrogen, much cheaper than the liquid helium required for lower temperatures.
German and French physicists discover the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) effect, which results from electron-spin effects in artificial multilayers of magnetic materials. The discovery marks the beginning of the field of spintronics, or spin-based electronics.
Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist at CERN, invents and demonstrates the World Wide Web (WWW), merging the technologies of personal computers, computer networking and hypertext into a global information system.