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]


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]

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]

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]

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.

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.

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 A regular pattern of magnetic moment 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.

Tunnel magnetoresistance Magnetic effect in insulators between ferromagnets

Tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) is a magnetoresistive effect that occurs in a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ), which is a component consisting of two ferromagnets separated by a thin insulator. If the insulating layer is thin enough, electrons can tunnel from one ferromagnet into the other. Since this process is forbidden in classical physics, the tunnel magnetoresistance is a strictly quantum mechanical phenomenon.

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.

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.

Forschungszentrum Jülich academic publisher

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).

RKKY stands for Ruderman–Kittel–Kasuya–Yosida. It 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

A two-dimensional semiconductor is a type of natural semiconductor with thicknesses on the atomic scale. The rising research attention towards 2D semiconductors started with a discovery by Geim and Novoselov et al. in 2004, when they reported a new semiconducting material graphene, a flat monolayer of carbon atoms arranged in a 2D honeycomb lattice. A 2D monolayer semiconductor is significant because it exhibits stronger piezoelectric coupling than traditionally employed bulk forms, which enables 2D materials applications in new electronic components used for sensing and actuating. In this emergent field of research in solid-state physics, the main focus is currently on designing nanoelectronic components by the use of graphene as electrical conductor, hexagonal boron nitride as electrical insulator, and a transition metal dichalcogenide as semiconductor.

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.


  1. "Forschungszentrum Jülich - GMR - Curriculum Vitae Peter A. Grünberg". Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  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". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  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". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  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". Phys. Rev. B. 39 (7): 4828–4830. Bibcode:1989PhRvB..39.4828B. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevB.39.4828 . PMID   9948867.
  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.