The 1998 Deutscher Zukunftspreis winner (link to nominees page) and Nobel Laureate Prof. Dr. Peter Grünberg died last week - as has been announced by Forschungszentrum Jülich.
The German President's Award for Innovation in Science and Technology 1998 was conferred on Professor Dr. Peter Grünberg for his discovery of the GMR effect.
It was for this innovation, the discovery of giant magnetoresistance (GMR), that Prof. Grünberg, together with French scientist Albert Fert, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics 2007; numerous other prestigious awards followed.
Applications based on the GMR effect led to a breakthrough in modern information technology. This effect considerably increased the storage capacity of hard drives. The GMR effect occurs when two iron layers are separated by a non-magnetic fine layer of another material, like chromium, on the nanometer scale, and this "sandwich" is then magnetized.
This discovery was the basis for the development of sensitive read-out heads for compact hard drives and enabled the storage capacity of hard drives for PCs, video recorders and MP3 players to be increased to the gigabyte range. Since this discovery Prof. Dr. Peter Grünberg has been known as the founding father of the technological field now called spintronics.