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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg: Nobel Prize 2007 in Physics

The wait is over. Nobel Prize for Physics has been announced just a few minutes ago and for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance, Albert Fert (France) and Peter Grünberg (Germany) have got the award. They will get half amount of the award each. Since this is breaking news for the time being therefore, I could not find much information about them.

So, I went to Wikipedia and found some information about both of them.

Wikipedia wrote about Albert Fert:

Albert Fert (* 1938) is a French physicist and one of the discoverers of the Giant magnetoresistive effect which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disks. He is currently professor at University Paris-Sud in Orsay and scientific director of the Unité mixte de physique CNRS/Thales. He was the awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Peter Grünberg [1].

To read more visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Fert

Wikipedia wrote about Peter Grünberg:

Dr Peter Grünberg is a German physicist and one of the discoverers of the Giant magnetoresistive effect which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disks.

Together with Albert Fert, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2007 for their discovery of the Giant Magnetoresistance Effect. .

Grünberg received his Ph.D. in 1969 from the Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany. 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.

To read more visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Grünberg

This year, there was no clear cut favorite in the Physics section of Nobel Prize. So, it was a bit tough decision for the judges.

AP earlier reported:

But the prize, one of the original five outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel, is one of the toughest to predict, and in some cases, comprehend, given the complexity of science involved for an award with a wide latitude of subjects to touch on.

"Physics is a tough one," said David Pendlebury, of research services at Thomson Scientific, which analyzes the work, citations and experience of scores of possible Nobel laureates and conducts an online poll to see who the likely winners could be.

"We have a real challenge which is to make a prediction and assume or hope or something that these few people will win it that year," he said. The company predicted that the winners of this year's medicine prize would win, but last year. "What happens is we have picked people who go on in subsequent years to win the Nobel Prize."

The Press release from Nobel Foundation said:

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2007 jointly to

Albert Fert

Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS/THALES, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France,


Peter Grünberg

Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany,

"for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance".

Nanotechnology gives sensitive read-out heads for compact hard disks

This year's physics prize is awarded for the technology that 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.

In 1988 the Frenchman Albert Fert and the German Peter Grünberg each independently discovered a totally new physical effect – Giant Magnetoresistance or GMR. Very weak magnetic changes give rise to major differences in electrical resistance in a GMR system. A system of this kind is the perfect tool for reading data from hard disks when information registered magnetically has to be converted to electric current. Soon researchers and engineers began work to enable use of the effect in read-out heads. In 1997 the first read-out head based on the GMR effect was launched and this soon became the standard technology. Even the most recent read-out techniques of today are further developments of GMR.

A hard disk stores information, such as music, in the form of microscopically small areas magnetized in different directions. The information is retrieved by a read-out head that scans the disk and registers the magnetic changes. The smaller and more compact the hard disk, the smaller and weaker the individual magnetic areas. More sensitive read-out heads are therefore required if information has to be packed more densely on a hard disk. A read-out head based on the GMR effect can convert very small magnetic changes into differences in electrical resistance and there-fore into changes in the current emitted by the read-out head. The current is the signal from the read-out head and its different strengths represent ones and zeros.

The GMR effect was discovered thanks to new techniques developed during the 1970s to produce very thin layers of different materials. If GMR is to work, structures consisting of layers that are only a few atoms thick have to be produced. For this reason GMR can also be considered one of the first real applications of the promising field of nanotechnology.

If you want to understand their works then you can visit this link: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2007/info.pdf

I will provide further update to this entry when I get fresh information.

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