Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nobel to giant magnetoresistance

I have always been very impressed by this modern devices capable of storing vast ammounts of data in a quite reduced space.

This devices had been possible by giant magnetoresistance, an effect discovered in multilayered materials (Fe/Cr/Fe trilayers and Fe/Cr multilayers). The effect manifests itself as a significant disminution in the resistance of the material in the abscence of a magnetic field, this has been implemented in the reading heads of hard drives allowing the data to be stored in really weak magnetic fields.

Giant magnetoresistance is widely regarded as the birth of spintronics, in particular in giant magnetoresistance the spins of the electrons of the nonmagnetic metal align parallel or antiparallel with an applied magnetic field in equal numbers.

This work got the nobel to Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg, who had just won the Wolf Award this year, so this prize wasn't a complete surprise for anyone, and it is actually the recongnition to some really remarkable research that has lead in to devices that everyone uses on a daily basis.

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