Peter Grünberg

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Peter Grünberg
Peter Gruenberg 01.jpg
Grünberg in 2009
Peter Andreas Grünberg

(1939-05-18)18 May 1939
Died7 April 2018(2018-04-07) (aged 78)
Nationality Germany
Alma mater Technische Universität Darmstadt
Known for Giant magnetoresistive effect
Awards Wolf Prize in Physics (2006)
European Inventor of the Year (2006)
Japan Prize 2007
Nobel Prize in Physics (2007) Friendship Award (China) 2016
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions Carleton University
Forschungszentrum Jülich
University of Cologne
Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST)
Doctoral advisor Stefan Hüfner

Peter Andreas Grünberg (18 May 1939 – 7 April 2018 [1] [2] [3] ) was a German physicist, and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his discovery with Albert Fert of giant magnetoresistance which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disk drives. [4]

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Nobel Prize in Physics One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physics is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for mankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others being the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.


Life and career

Grünberg was born in Pilsen, Bohemia, which at the time was in the German-occupied Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic) to the Sudeten German [5] family of Anna and Feodor A. Grünberg [6] which first lived in Dysina [7] [8] (Dýšina) to the East of Pilsen. Grünberg was a Catholic. [9]

Plzeň Statutory City in Czech Republic

Plzeň is a city in the Czech Republic. About 90 kilometres west of Prague in western Bohemia, it is the fourth most populous city in the Czech Republic.

Bohemia Historical region in the Czech Republic

Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.

Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia former country

The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was a protectorate of Nazi Germany established on 16 March 1939 following the German occupation of Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939. Earlier, following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, Nazi Germany had incorporated the Czech Sudetenland territory as a Reichsgau.

After the war, the family was interned; the parents were brought to a camp. His father, a Russia-born engineer who since 1928 had worked for Škoda, died on 27 November 1945 in Czech imprisonment and is buried in a mass grave in Pilsen which is also inscribed with Grünberg Theodor † 27. November 1945. [10] His mother Anna (who died in 2002 aged 100) [11] had to work in agriculture and stayed with her parents in the Petermann [12] house in Untersekerschan [13] (Dolní Sekyřany), where her children (a sister was born in 1937) were brought later. The remaining Grünberg family, like almost all Germans, was expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1946. Seven-year-old Peter came to Lauterbach, Hesse where he attended gymnasium. [14]

Expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia Population expulsion

The expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II was part of a series of evacuations and deportations of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe during and after World War II.

Lauterbach, Hesse Place in Hesse, Germany

Lauterbach is a town in the Vogelsbergkreis district of the federal state of Hesse in central Germany. In 1983, the town hosted the 23rd Hessentag state festival.

<i>Gymnasium</i> (Germany) secondary school

Gymnasium, in the German education system, is the most advanced of the three types of German secondary schools, the others being Realschule and Hauptschule. Gymnasium strongly emphasizes academic learning, comparable to the British grammar school system or with prep schools in the United States. A student attending Gymnasium is called a Gymnasiast. In 2009/10 there were 3,094 gymnasia in Germany, with c. 2,475,000 students, resulting in an average student number of 800 students per school.

Grünberg received his intermediate diploma in 1962 from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt. He then attended the Technische Universität Darmstadt, where he received his diploma in physics in 1966 and his Ph.D. in 1969. While there, he met and married his wife, Helma Prauser, who became a schoolteacher. [15] From 1969 to 1972, he did postdoctoral work at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He later joined the Institute for Solid State Physics at Forschungszentrum Jülich, where he became a leading researcher in the field of thin film and multilayer magnetism until his retirement in 2004. [14]

Carleton University university in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Carleton University is a public comprehensive university in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1942 as Carleton College, a private, non-denominational evening college to serve veterans returning from World War II, the institution was chartered as a university by the provincial government in 1952 through the The Carleton University Act. The legislation was subsequently amended in 1957 to give the institution its current name. The university moved to its current campus in 1959, and would expand rapidly throughout the 1960s amid broader efforts by the provincial government to increase support to post-secondary institutions and expand access to higher education.

Ottawa Federal capital city in Ontario, Canada

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. It stands on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of southern Ontario. Ottawa borders Gatineau, Quebec; the two form the core of the Ottawa–Gatineau census metropolitan area (CMA) and the National Capital Region (NCR). As of 2016, Ottawa had a city population of 934,243 and a metropolitan population of 1,323,783 making it the fourth-largest city and the fifth-largest CMA in Canada. In June 2019, the City of Ottawa estimated it had surpassed a population of 1 million.

Forschungszentrum Jülich

Forschungszentrum Jülich is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and is one of the largest interdisciplinary research centres in Europe. It was founded on 11 December 1956 by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia as a registered association, before it became "Kernforschungsanlage Jülich GmbH" or Nuclear Research Centre Jülich in 1967. In 1990, the name of the association was changed to "Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH". It has close collaborations with RWTH Aachen in the form of Jülich-Aachen Research Alliance (JARA).

Important work

In 1986 he discovered the antiparallel exchange coupling between ferromagnetic layers separated by a thin non-ferromagnetic layer, and in 1988 he discovered the giant magnetoresistive effect (GMR). [16] GMR was simultaneously and independently discovered by Albert Fert from the Université de Paris Sud. It has been used extensively in read heads of modern hard drives. Another application of the GMR effect is non-volatile, magnetic random access memory.

Giant magnetoresistance

Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) is a quantum mechanical magnetoresistance effect observed in multilayers composed of alternating ferromagnetic and non-magnetic conductive layers. The 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg for the discovery of GMR.

Albert Fert French physicist

Albert Fert is a French physicist and one of the discoverers of giant magnetoresistance which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disks. Currently, he is an emeritus professor at Université Paris-Sud in Orsay and scientific director of a joint laboratory between the Centre national de la recherche scientifique and Thales Group. He was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Peter Grünberg.

University of Paris-Sud French university

Paris-Sud University, also known as University of Paris — XI, is a French university distributed among several campuses in the southern suburbs of Paris including Orsay, Cachan, Châtenay-Malabry, Sceaux and Kremlin-Bicêtre campuses. The main campus is located in Orsay. This university is a member of the UniverSud Paris and a constituent university of the federal University of Paris-Saclay.

Apart from the Nobel Prize, Grünberg's work also has been rewarded with shared prizes in the APS International Prize for New Materials, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Magnetism Award, the Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize, the Wolf Prize in Physics and the 2007 Japan Prize. He won the German Future Prize for Technology and Innovation in 1998 and was named European Inventor of the Year [17] in the category "Universities and research institutions" by the European Patent Office and European Commission in 2006.

The Wolf Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Wolf Foundation in Israel. It is one of the six Wolf Prizes established by the Foundation and awarded since 1978; the others are in Agriculture, Chemistry, Mathematics, Medicine and Arts.

Japan Prize Japanese science award

The Japan Prize is awarded to people from all parts of the world whose "original and outstanding achievements in science and technology are recognized as having advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for mankind." The Prize is presented by the Japan Prize Foundation. Since its inception in 1985, the Foundation has awarded 81 people from 13 countries.

The German Future Prize award is considered one of the most prestigious conferred for science and innovation within Germany. The award is worth 250,000 euros and is more than a scientific prize, it helps to identify projects which not only are of high scientific value, but which have concrete applications and are mature for commercial markets.
This prize has been awarded to various exceptional individuals since 1997.

Selected publications

Peter Grunberg playing guitar during his speech. Peter Grunberg playing guitar.jpg
Peter Grünberg playing guitar during his speech.

Related Research Articles

Magnetoresistance is the tendency of a material to change the value of its electrical resistance in an externally-applied magnetic field. There are a variety of effects that can be called magnetoresistance: some occur in bulk non-magnetic metals and semiconductors, such as geometrical magnetoresistance, Shubnikov de Haas oscillations, or the common positive magnetoresistance in metals. Other effects occur in magnetic metals, such as negative magnetoresistance in ferromagnets or anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR). Finally, in multicomponent or multilayer systems, giant magnetoresistance (GMR), tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR), colossal magnetoresistance (CMR), and extraordinary magnetoresistance (EMR) can be observed.

Spintronics, also known as spin electronics, is the study of the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electronic charge, in solid-state devices. The field of spintronics concerns spin-charge coupling in metallic systems; the analogous effects in insulators fall into the field of multiferroics.

Antiferromagnetism magnetic ordering

In materials that exhibit antiferromagnetism, the magnetic moments of atoms or molecules, usually related to the spins of electrons, align in a regular pattern with neighboring spins pointing in opposite directions. This is, like ferromagnetism and ferrimagnetism, a manifestation of ordered magnetism.

Colossal magnetoresistance (CMR) is a property of some materials, mostly manganese-based perovskite oxides, that enables them to dramatically change their electrical resistance in the presence of a magnetic field. The magnetoresistance of conventional materials enables changes in resistance of up to 5%, but materials featuring CMR may demonstrate resistance changes by orders of magnitude.

RKKY stands for Ruderman–Kittel–Kasuya–Yosida and refers to a coupling mechanism of nuclear magnetic moments or localized inner d- or f-shell electron spins in a metal by means of an interaction through the conduction electrons. The RKKY interaction is the J/t >> 1 limit of the double exchange interaction.

Multiferroics are defined as materials that exhibit more than one of the primary ferroic properties:

Exchange bias or exchange anisotropy occurs in bilayers of magnetic materials where the hard magnetization behavior of an antiferromagnetic thin film causes a shift in the soft magnetization curve of a ferromagnetic film. The exchange bias phenomenon is of tremendous utility in magnetic recording, where it is used to pin the state of the readback heads of hard disk drives at exactly their point of maximum sensitivity; hence the term "bias."

Heusler compound

Heusler compounds are magnetic intermetallics with face-centered cubic crystal structure and a composition of XYZ (half-Heuslers) or X2YZ (full-Heuslers), where X and Y are transition metals and Z is in the p-block. Many of these compounds exhibit properties relevant to spintronics, such as magnetoresistance, variations of the Hall effect, ferro-, antiferro-, and ferrimagnetism, half- and semimetallicity, semiconductivity with spin filter ability, superconductivity, and topological band structure. Their magnetism results from a double-exchange mechanism between neighboring magnetic ions. Manganese, which sits at the body centers of the cubic structure, was the magnetic ion in the first Heusler compound discovered. (See the Bethe–Slater curve for details of why this happens.)

Stuart Parkin British physicist

Stuart Stephen Papworth Parkin is an experimental physicist, IBM Fellow and manager of the magnetoelectronics group at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. He is also a consulting professor in the Department of Applied Physics at Stanford University and director of the IBM-Stanford Spintronic Science and Applications Center, which was formed in 2004.

Spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy (SP-STM) is a specialized application of scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) that can provide detailed information of magnetic phenomena on the single-atom scale additional to the atomic topography gained with STM. SP-STM opened a novel approach to static and dynamic magnetic processes as precise investigations of domain walls in ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic systems, as well as thermal and current-induced switching of nanomagnetic particles.


Superexchange, or Kramers–Anderson superexchange, is the strong (usually) antiferromagnetic coupling between two next-to-nearest neighbour cations through a non-magnetic anion. In this way, it differs from direct exchange in which there is coupling between nearest neighbor cations not involving an intermediary anion. Superexchange is a result of the electrons having come from the same donor atom and being coupled with the receiving ions' spins. If the two next-to-nearest neighbor positive ions are connected at 90 degrees to the bridging non-magnetic anion, then the interaction can be a ferromagnetic interaction.

Spinmechatronics is neologism referring to an emerging field of research concerned with the exploitation of spin-dependent phenomena and established spintronic methodologies and technologies in conjunction with electro-mechanical, magno-mechanical, acousto-mechanical and opto-mechanical systems. Most especially, spinmechatronics concerns the integration of micro- and nano- mechatronic systems with spin physics and spintronics.

In its most general form, the magnetoelectric effect (ME) denotes any coupling between the magnetic and the electric properties of a material. The first example of such an effect was described by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1888, who found that a dielectric material moving through an electric field would become magnetized. A material where such a coupling is intrinsically present is called a magnetoelectric.

Herbert Wagner is a German theoretical physicist, who mainly works in statistical mechanics. He is a professor emeritus of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Spin engineering describes the control and manipulation of quantum spin systems to develop devices and materials. This includes the use of the spin degrees of freedom as a probe for spin based phenomena. Because of the basic importance of quantum spin for physical and chemical processes, spin engineering is relevant for a wide range of scientific and technological applications. Current examples range from Bose–Einstein condensation to spin-based data storage and reading in state-of-the-art hard disk drives, as well as from powerful analytical tools like nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy to the development of magnetic molecules as qubits and magnetic nanoparticles. In addition, spin engineering exploits the functionality of spin to design materials with novel properties as well as to provide a better understanding and advanced applications of conventional material systems. Many chemical reactions are devised to create bulk materials or single molecules with well defined spin properties, such as a single-molecule magnet. The aim of this article is to provide an outline of fields of research and development where the focus is on the properties and applications of quantum spin.

The EPS Europhysics Prize is awarded since 1975 by the Condensed Matter Division of the European Physical Society, in recognition of recent work by one or more individuals, for scientific excellence in the area of condensed matter physics. It is one of Europe’s most prestigious prizes in the field of condensed matter physics. Several laureates of the EPS Europhysics Prize also received a Nobel Prize in Physics or Chemistry.

Spinterface interface between a ferromagnet and an organic semiconductor

Spinterface is a term coined to indicate an interface between a ferromagnet and an organic semiconductor. This is a widely investigated topic in molecular spintronics, since the role of interfaces plays a huge part in the functioning of a device. In particular, spinterfaces are widely studied in the scientific community because of their hybrid organic/inorganic composition. In fact, the hybridization between the metal and the organic material can be controlled by acting on the molecules, which are way more responsive to electrical and optical stimuli with respect to metals. This gives rise to the possibility of efficiently tuning the magnetic properties of the interface at the atomic scale.


  2. "Noted German physicist Peter Grünberg dies | DW". Deutsche Welle. 2018-04-09. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  3. Peter Grünberg RIP
  4. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2007". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  5. 1939 wurde ich im damals von Hitler annektierten Pilsen, heute -Tschechien, als Sudetendeutscher geboren. Gleich nach Kriegsende, mit dem Einmarsch der Alliierten-Truppen, wurden alle Deutschen, so auch meine Familie, interniert. Meine Eltern kamen in ein Lager: Mein Vater Feodor ist im Lager geblieben, meine Mutter Anna dann zur Feldarbeit in das Dorf meiner Großeltern gekommen. Wir Kinder sind anfangs zu meiner tschechischen Tante gebracht worden, später zu meiner Mutter. 1946 bin ich nach Lauterbach in Hessen ausgesiedelt und dort eingeschult worden. Meinen Vater habe ich nicht mehr gesehen, er ist im Internierungslager gestorben. — interview at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2008-06-05.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. Curriculum Vitae Peter A. Grünberg — Peter Andreas Grünberg, born on 18 May 1939 in Pilsen (now Czech Republic), parents: Dipl.-Ing. Feodor A. Grünberg and Anna Grünberg. CVV at Archived 2007-12-15 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Heimatkreis Mies-Pilsen e. V
  8. Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft, „Kreisgruppe Hochtaunus“,20.11.2007
  9. Glauben Sie, Professor Grünberg, als Naturwissenschaftler an Gott? — Peter Grünberg: Ja, natürlich. Ich bin streng katholisch aufgewachsen und denke, einiges dabei gewonnen zu haben. Aber ich halte es mit Lessings Ringparabel. Welcher der drei Ringe ist der echte? Grünberg states he believes in God, was raised strictly Catholic, and adheres to Lessing's Ring Parable in an interview with Gerhard Ertl and Peter Grünberg at Archived 2007-11-30 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Grünberg Theodor † 27. November 1945,
  11. Nobelpreisträger Grünberg aus Pilsen
  12. Photo 2,
  13. Photo 1,
  14. 1 2 "Curriculum Vitae". Forschungszentrum Jülich. Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
  15. Overbye, Dennis (13 April 2018). "Peter Grünberg, 78, Winner of an 'iPod Nobel,' Is Dead". The New York Times . p. A25. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  16. G. Binasch; P. Grünberg; F. Saurenbach; W. Zinn (1989). "Enhanced magnetoresistance in layered magnetic structures with antiferromagnetic interlayer exchange" (abstract). Phys. Rev. B. 39 (7): 4828–4830. Bibcode:1989PhRvB..39.4828B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.39.4828.
  17. "European Inventor of the Year 2006 in the category Universities and research institutions: Peter Grünberg (Jülich Research Centre, Germany)". 2006. Retrieved 10 April 2018.