Two share Nobel Physics Prize

The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Frenchman Albert Fert and German Peter Grünberg, it was announced on Tuesday morning.

The pair have been given the prize jointly for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

Giant Magnetoresistance is the technology used to read data on hard disks. The technology has made it possible for computer hard disks to shrink rapidly in recent years. It is largely thanks to them that lightweight, compact modern laptops could be made.

Grünberg and Fert each independently discovered Giant Magnetoresistance in 1988. GMR is a totally new physical effect, under which very weak magnetic changes give rise to major differences in electrical resistance.

The system is “the perfect tool for reading data from hard disks when information registered magnetically has to be converted to electric current,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

Albert Fert, born 1938 in Carcassonne, France, is Professor of Physics at Université Paris-Sud. Peter Grünberg was born in 1939 in Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic. He is a German citizen Professor at the Institute of Solid State Research at Research Centre in Jülich, Germany.