Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nobel Prize awarded to Fert and Grünberg

This years Nobel Prize in Physics goes to the French physicist Albert Fert and the German Peter Grünberg "for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance", an effect that allows today's hard disks to store hundereds of gigabytes of data. Both researchers have been awarded with the Wolf prize earlier this year, and you can find plenty of information about them at google ...

Herzlichen Glückwunsch and Compliments to Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg!


Update (Oct 11):

Here are two references to somwhat more technical expositions about giant magnetoresistance (GMR), albeit one in German, the other requiring a subscription:

  • The American Journal of Physics has, presciently, adressed GMR with a resource letter: Resource Letter STMN-1: Spin transport in magnetic nanostructures, by Kristl Hathaway and E. Dan Dahlberg, American Journal of Physics 75 (October 2007) 871; doi: 10.1119/1.2757627 (subscription required)

  • The German Physical Society has presented the Stern-Gerlach-Medaille, its most prestigious award in experimental physics, to Grünberg earlier this year, and the Physik Journal (the German equivalent of Physics Today) reports the awardee's talk at the spring meeting of the DPG, Kopplung macht den Widerstand, by Peter Grünberg, Physik Journal 6 (2007) No 8/9, 33.
    The PDF (in German) is for free.

23 comments:

Arun said...

Wow, you beat the New York Times by an hour!

Arun said...

No, sorry, by 5 minutes.

Bee said...

while I was sleeping...

Thanks :-)

Clovis said...

And judging by this DW video, Germans may have a good stock of future Nobel prize winners for the future...

http://www.dw-world.de/popups/popup_single_mediaplayer/0,,2814242_type_video_struct_11458,00.html?mytitle=What%2Bmakes%2BSaxony%2527s%2Bschools%2Bso%2Bgood%253F

Bee said...

Hi Clovis:

Nice! They might have to import them though... Best,

B.

Andreas said...

And Grünberg even studied in Frankfurt...

Uncle Al said...

Dear esteemed Sir or Madam,

The Swedish Academy of Arts and Sciences has this year chosen you to receive the Nobel Prize! We wish to send you a cashier's cheque for $(US)1.31 million. Please send us your bank account number and its PIN number so we may deposit your Prize money soonest.

With greatest admiration,
Bjork Klyster.,
Senior Administrative Rövhål
Swedish Academy of Arts and Sciences

Anonymous said...

A very practical award. How about eventually awarding the Nobel in Physics to the guys who put the first satellite in orbit 50 years ago? Though I think there were too many people involved and it'd be hard to pick just three...(?)

changho

Bee said...

Hi Uncle,

I believe they call instead of sending email. Can you fake a Swedish accent?

Best,

B.

Christine said...

Congratulations to them and to the Brazilian physicist Mario Norberto Baibich, who was the first author to the 1988 paper.

(I have the feeling that Brazil will never get a Nobel prize.)

Christine

stefan said...

Hi Andreas,

indeed, he did his Vordiplom in Frankfurt, and then moved on to Darmstadt for the Diplom and the PhD, which he obtained in 1969.

In Darmstadt, he was a student of Stefan Hüfner, who later came to Saarbrücken - I had followed there one of his seminars on solid-state physics - and Karl-Heinz Hellwege, at that time the editor-in chief of the Landolt-Börnstein. We had a discussion this afternoon at the Landolt-Börnstein editorial office that this paper probably relates the results of Grünberg's PhD thesis: "Absorptions- und Emissionsspektren von Samariumgranaten", Zeitschrift für Physik A 225, August 1969, 376-382.

I have the impression that Grünberg is in the tradition of excellent German solid-state physicists - Gerd Binnig and Klaus von Klitzing had similar backgrounds.

Interestingly, both Binnig and von Klitzing made their discoveries of the tunnel microscope (1981) and the quantum Hall effect (1980) not much before Grünberg's breakthrough with the GMR (1988) - it just took longer for Grünberg to get the Nobel prize. And, by the way, Binnig's Frankfurt PhD advisor Werner Martienssen is now the editor-in-chief of Landolt-Börnstein - as you see, the solid-state community is well organized ;-)

Best, Stefan

stefan said...

Dear Christine,

thanks for the links to the original papers of the groups of Fert and Grünberg - they are freely available from the APS:

Giant Magnetoresistance of (001)Fe/(001)Cr Magnetic Superlattices by M. N. Baibich, J. M. Broto, A. Fert, F. Nguyen Van Dau, F. Petroff, P. Eitenne, G. Creuset, A. Friederich, and J. Chazelas; Phys. Rev. Lett. 61 (1988) 2472, doi 10.1103/PhysRevLett.61.2472

Enhanced magnetoresistance in layered magnetic structures with antiferromagnetic interlayer exchange by G. Binasch, P. Grünberg, F. Saurenbach, and W. Zinn; Phys. Rev. B 39 (1989) 4828, doi 10.1103/PhysRevB.39.4828

Best, Stefan

Anonymous said...

This, based on the imperfect standard model. Image what could be done if we can go beyond the standard model? I can see starships going at light speed.

Clovis said...

Bee: Sorry, I didn't get it. Do you mean that native Germans are not graduating anymore in the necessary rate to mantain its scientific tradition??

Anonymous said...

In short, a prize for work that would have been judged utterly insignificant if it were not associated with making money.

A Nobel for discovering the ipod. What will it be next year -- a Nobel for discovering facebook?

Pathetic.

Kris said...

Hi anonymous,

At least this work has a demonstrable connection to the real world. I'm happy they don't give Nobels for playing games that only generate citations.

Thomas Larsson said...

Dear uncle,

I know a number of people on The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (what has arts got to do with it?), but none of them has the title "Senior Administrative Asshole"

Bee said...

Hi Clovis:

I thought this was the whole point of the movie? Companies as much as universities are trying to recruit young people by more and more desperate means, that includes advertisement campaigns in Kindergardens. As they said in the movie, there are presently plenty of job offers but on the long run not enough young people to fill in, it is apparently especially worrisome in mechanical engineering. It's mostly a demographic problem, the average age is afaik still moving up, + the brain-drain. The obvious solution is to import people. However, the pop density is 232 /km^2, about a 100 times higher than Canada (3.2 / km^2), so there are limits to this.
Best,

B.

Clovis said...

Bee,

Maybe I am too naive but I didn't see the movie from this point of view. Companies investing in schools and stimulating interest for science (even if self interest is their motivation for doing so) looks like to be something good. Or not?

Anyway, comparison with pop. density of Canada is unfair - what about the pop. density in the poles? :-)

Uncle Al said...

To Thomas Larsson...

The post is a satire of Kenyan email spam GIANT LOTTO winnings, etc. I thought "Rövhål" was an especially sweet fillip - and don't think it was easy to find. Anybody could have gone with "Klyster," as in the Swedish Russell and Sigurd Varian Bros.' subtley humorous 1937 klystron.

Attributing it to the Royal Swedish Academy would have been mean-spirited... and self-defeating, if and when.

Bee said...

Hi Clovis:

Yes, definitely, it IS good. I was just commenting on your remark 'Germans may have a good stock of future Nobel prize winners for the future'. And you are of course right, since half of Canada is covered under snow all year round, maybe one should be so fair to multiply the pop dens by two ;-) Best,

B.

Bee said...

Guess where Grünberg was born? In Pilsen, no kidding :-)

stefan said...

A Nobel for discovering the ipod.

Hmh, that may show the dangers of framing: When everyone mentions the iPod when talking about the GMR Nobel Prize, the distinction between the "invention of the iPod" and "making the unexpected discovery of a quantum-mechanical effect which can be applied to miniaturise the reading heads of hard disk drives" can get lost for some people.

It may be true that the GMR effect as such is of much interest only to solid-state physicists, but it has, obviously, important applications outside the lab.

One can argue whether the application of GMR to the miniaturisation to magnetic storage systems is of the "the greatest benefit on mankind", but when emphasising the "invention" part in Nobel's will, " the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics" , there can hardly be much discussion about the justification of this prize. One may also lament that great inventions often go hand in hand with big money for some companies - on the other hand, that is where the Nobel Prize money came from at the first place.

Best, Stefan