Erich Schmid was a pioneer in metal physics, studied physics and mathematics at the University of Vienna and, interrupted by service in World War I, graduated in 1920. Following his dissertation “On Brown`sche motion in gases”, four papers were written during the 1920s in which Brownian motion was investigated in connection with the determination of the charge of small particles by the Ehrenhaft-Millikan method.
Schmid worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Fiber Chemistry from 1922, where he collaborated with Hermann Mark and Michael Polanyi. He focused on the use of physical methods instead of the chemical methods that had been used until then and is therefore considered one of the pioneers of modern metal physics. In 1928, Schmid became department head of the Institute for Metal Research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. There he produced more than 50 publications, which established his international recognition.