Noble for Hard-disks on iPods and Laptops



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The Noble prize 2007 for Physics has been announced and the gentlemen who have won the deserving accolodes are Albert Fert from France and Peter Grünberg from Germany. But what this great intellectual talk doing on an abode like ours?

The logical answer is that, it was due to Mr. Fert and Mr. Grünberg, so called techies (like us) are born. Both of these gentleman, actually, developed the technology has led to miniaturized hard disks for computers and music players. This all actually came through the discovery of giant magnetoresistance in 1988 and their subsequent work together to develop the technology, the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation quoted. The foundation website quoted:

It is thanks to this technology that it has been possible to miniaturize hard disks so radically in recent years

The two will share a prize of 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.5 million). The technology enables disk drives to read vast amounts of information from smaller spaces by sensing large electrical resistance changes caused by weak magnetic fields. The first read-out head was introduced in 1997 and the technology has become standard for personal computers and models of Apple Inc. iPod music players outfitted with hard drives.

“Ultimately, in a few years you’re going to be able to fit 1,000 gigs of information on a square inch of magnetic media,” Chris Murray, a researcher in spin electronics at the Center for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices in Dublin, who was quoted at a source. “We’re kind of half way there. That’s the Holy Grail figure.”

Giant magnetoresistance is considered to be the first application of nanotechnology, which involves making devices on a molecular level, the Nobel Foundation said. Nanotechnology gives sensitive read-out heads for compact hard disks. This technology is used to read data on hard disks. It is thanks to this technology that it has been possible to miniaturize hard disks so radically in recent years. Sensitive read-out heads are needed to be able to read data from the compact hard disks used in laptops and some music players, for instance.

Today, compact and fast hard discs are a useful tool for the information society. Our data, which are becoming more and more extensive because music and video industry, are just a few clicks away. At the end of the 80s, Peter Grünberg discovered that the electrical resistance of thin magnetic layers can be greatly changed through external magnetic fields. Since the mid-nineties, the so-called GMR or giant magnetic resistance effect has been used in all common hard discs to read magnetic bits and bytes. The effect is based on the quantum-mechanical combination of electron spins in the material layers.In only ten years, the GMR effect has made its way from the laboratory to the consumer and is now used daily a billion of times. Read more to know about these Nobel Lauretes (actually, tech-lauretes, as we like to call them).

Albert Fert:

Fert graduated in 1962 from the École normale supérieure in Paris. He received his master’s degree in 1963 at the University of Paris, and earned his PhD in 1970 at the Université Paris-Sud.

In 1988 Fert discovered the Giant magnetoresistance effect (GMR) in multilayers of iron and chromium which is recognized as the birth of spintronics; GMR was simultaneously and independently discovered by Peter Grünberg from the Jülich Research Centre. Since 1988, Albert Fert has made contributions to the field of spintronics.

His CV:

Academic Degrees:
1957-1962 École Normale Supérieure (Paris), Master in Mathematics,Master in Physics
1963 UniversitéParis, Master thesis (physics)
1970 Doctor of Physical Science, Université Paris-Sud

Professional Career:
1962-1964 Teaching assistant Université de Grenoble
1965-1976 Maître-Assistant (lecturer), Université Paris-Sud (Orsay)
1970-1995 Leader of a research group, Laboratory of Solid State Physics, Université Paris-Sud
From 1976 Professor in Physics Université Paris-Sud
From 1995 Scientific Director, Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales (Orsay, Palaiseauafter 2005)

Major Publications:
1. A. Fert and I. A. Campbell “Two-Current Conduction in Nickel”, Physical Review Letters 21, 1190-1192 (1968)
2. M. N. Baibich, J. M. Broto, A. Fert, F. Nguyen Van Dau, F. Petroff, P. Eitenne, G. Creuzet, A. Friederich, and J. Chazelas “Giant Magnetoresistance of (001)Fe/(001)Cr Magnetic Superlattices”, Physical Review Letters 61, 2472-2475 (1988)
3. T. Valet and A. Fert, “Theory of the perpendicular magnetoresistance in magnetic multilayers”, Physical review B 48, 7099 (1993).
4. A. Fert and H. Jaffrès, “Conditions for efficient spin injection from a ferromagnetic metal into a semiconductor”, Physical Review B 64, 184420 (2001).

Major Honors:
1994 The American Physical Society International Prize for New Materials, together with P. Grünberg and S.S.P. Parkin
1994 IUPAP Magnetism Award, together with P. Grünberg
1994 The French Physical Society Jean Ricard Grand Prize
1997 The European Physical Society Hewlett Packard Prize together with P. Grünberg and S.S.P. Parkin
2003 Honoris Causa Doctorate of the University of Dublin (Ireland).
2003 Gold Medal of the French “Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique” (CNRS).
2006 Honoris Causa Doctorate of the University of Kaiserslautern (Germany)

2004 The French Academy of Science

Peter Grünberg

Grünberg was born in Pilsen, at that time the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, now the Czech Republic. His father, an engineering graduate, moved the family after World War II to Lauterbach, Hesse, where he attended gymnasium.

Grünberg received his intermediate diploma in 1962 from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. He then attended the Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany, where he received his diploma in physics in 1966 and his Ph.D. in 1969. From 1969-1972, he did postdoctoral work at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He later joined the Institute for Solid State Physics at the Jülich Research Centre, where he became a leading researcher in the field of thin film and multilayer magnetism until his retirement in 2004.

His CV:

Peter Andreas Grünberg
born on 18 May 1939 in Pilsen (now Czech Republic),
parents: Dipl.-Ing. Feodor A. Grünberg and Anna Grünberg

1946: Resettlement to Lauterbach in Hesse, starts school
1950-1959: Grammar school in Lauterbach
1959-1963: Studies of physics at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt (Main), intermediate diploma 1962
1963-1969: Continues studies of physics at Darmstadt University of Technology, diploma 1966, doctor´s degree 1969
1966: Marries Helma Prausa. Three children: Andreas (1973), Sylvia (1974) and Katharina (1981)
1969-1972: Postdoctora
l Fellow of National Research Council of Canada at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada
since 1972: Research scientist at the Institute of Solid State Research at Research Centre Jülich
1984: Habilitation at the University of Cologne, “Privatdozent”
1984-1985: Research stay at Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA
1986: Activities in the field of antiferromagnetic coupling in Fe/Cr/Fe layers
1988: Work on the GMR effect in Jülich
1992: Appointment as adjunct professor at the University of Cologne
1998: Six-month research stay at the University of Sendai and at Tsukuba Research Centre, Japan
2004: After 32 years at the Research Centre, Peter Grünberg retires, but continues working

Prizes and Honours:
1994 APS International Prize for New Materials (with A. Fert und S.S.P. Parkin)
1994 IUPAP Magnetism Award (with A. Fert)
1996 Technology Prize of the “Association of Friends and Benefactors of Research Centre Jülich”
1997 Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize (with A. Fert und S.S.P. Parkin)
1998 German Future Prize awarded by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany
2002 Honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy of Ruhr University Bochum
2003 External Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society
2004 Manfred von Ardenne Prize for Applied Physics from the European Society of Thin Films (EFDS)
2006 Award for “European Inventor of the Year” by the European Commission and the European Patent Office
2007 Stern Gerlach Medal of the German Physics Society (DPG)
2007 Japan-Prize der Science and Technology Foundation of Japan (JSTF) (with A. Fert)
2007 Wolf-Foundation-Prize in physics (with A.Fert)
2007 Nobel Prize in physics (with A.Fert)

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