The Commission on Magnetism (C9) was established by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics in 1957 to promote the exchange of information and views among the members of the international scientific community in the general field of Magnetism.
We are mourning the passing of our dear colleague Peter Grünberg. He passed away beginning April in Jülich at the age of 78. In 1988, he discovered the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) effect, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2007 together with Albert Fert. Their discovery of the GMR effect, which the two scientists discovered independently of each other, led to a breakthrough in modern information technology: the storage capacity of hard drives was increased significantly, enabling the miniaturization of storage media, which significantly advanced the development of information technology worldwide. It marked the beginning of the research field spintronics and put the field of big-data and social media on the road.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Peter Grünberg received a variety of prizes and honors. He had been honored for this discovery with the German Federal President’s Future Prize in 1989 and the European Inventor Award in 2006. Additional awards partly together with Albert Fert include the Japan Prize of the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan (JSTF) and the Wolf Prize (both in 2007). To honor Peter Grünberg, the Institute for Festkörperforschung at the Forschungszentrum Jülich (Research Center Juelich), which he joined in 1972 and where he stayed beyond retirement in 2004, was renamed Peter Grünberg Institute in 2011.
Peter Grünberg was born on May 18, 1939, in Pilsen, Czech Republic. He entered Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt in 1959. In 1963 he entered the Darmstadt University of Technology, emerging with a Ph.D. in physics in 1969. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Carleton University in Ottawa, Peter Grünberg joined in 1972 the Institut für Festkörper-forschung. In 1984, he changed his research field from the magnetism of rare-earth chalcogenides to the magnetism of thin metallic films and was very quickly successful. In 1986, he discovered with colleagues from the Argonne National Laboratory the antiferromagnetic interlayer exchange coupling between Fe layers across Cr interlayers.
Stefan Blügel, Peter Grünberg Institute, Forschungszentrum Jülich, May 2018