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Japanese Research Prize for Jülich Scientist

[11. Januar 2007]

Jülich, 11 January 2007 - This year's internationally prestigious Japan Prize has been awarded to Prof. Peter Grünberg from Research Centre Jülich. He will share the prize money of roughly € 350,000 in the category "Innovative Devices Inspired by Basic Research" with Prof. Albert Fert from the Université Paris-Sud. The prize will be presented in April by Emperor Akihito.

The two solid-state physicists will be honoured for their work on giant magnetoresistance. The discovery of this effect led in the nineties to a breakthrough in gigabyte hard drives. Peter Grünberg was already awarded the Future Prize of the German Federal President in 1998. In 2006 he was honoured with the prize for European Inventor of the Year by the European Commission, and in 2007 he received the Stern-Gerlach Medal of the German Physics Society. Grünberg's work laid the foundations for the field of spintronics, which exploits the quantum mechanical spin of electrons for micro- and nanoelectronics.

In their citation the jury emphasized that the basic research by Grünberg and Fert had meant "an enormous step forward for information technology". The Science and Technology Foundation of Japan, which awards the prize annually in two categories, said that the "achievements are of inestimable value and deserve to take their place in the history of science". The prize will be presented to the researchers on 19 April by Emperor Akihito.

Grünberg's giant magnetoresistance (GMR) effect is now found in more than 90 per cent of hard drives 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 drives came onto the market in 1997. Exploitation of the GMR effect has led to eight-figure earnings for Research Centre Jülich. The GMR effect has long been integrated around the world into improved read heads for hard drives, videotapes and in MP3 players.

More information


Peter Grünberg wins Japan-Prize

Press contact:

Kosta Schinarakis
Science Journalist
Research Centre Jülich, Germany, 52425 JülichTel. 02461 61-4771, Fax 02461 61-4666,E-Mail: