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Nobel Prize for Prof. Peter Grünberg from Research Centre Jülich

[9. Oktober 2007]

More background information on the Nobel laureate Peter Grünberg and his work

Jülich/Stockholm, 9 October 2007 - The Nobel Committee has awarded this year's Nobel Prize in physics to the Jülich researcher Peter Grünberg and his colleague Albert Fert from the University of Paris. Grünberg and Fert are being honoured for their discovery of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) in the eighties. The GMR effect led to the breakthrough in gigabyte hard disks used in every computer produced today. Together with Albert Fert, Grünberg founded the future-oriented technology of spintronics.

The solid-state physicists have been honoured for their work on giant magnetoresistance, which paved the way for the breakthrough in producing gigabyte hard disks in the nineties. Their research laid the foundations for the field of spintronics, which exploits the quantum mechanical spin of electrons for micro- and nanoelectronics. Thanks to this basic research it became possible to develop high-performance read/write heads for hard disks.

Grünberg's giant magnetoresistance (GMR) effect is now found in almost every hard disk produced today. The GMR effect enables data to be read out very precisely. These data are stored tightly packed in small areas of different magnetization. A sensor that makes use of the GMR effect registers these tiny differences as a large measurable change and is therefore able to function in a highly sensitive manner. This fact was recognized very rapidly by industry. The first GMR read head for computer hard disks came onto the market in 1997. Exploitation of the GMR effect has led to eight-figure earnings for Research Centre Jülich as the holder of the patent. The GMR effect has long been integrated around the world into improved read heads for hard disks, video tapes and also in MP3 players. In 1998, Peter Grünberg won the German Federal President's Future Prize and in 2006 the European Inventor Award.


Peter Grünberg

Photo: Research Centre Jülich

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