Peter Grünberg

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Peter Grünberg
Peter Gruenberg 01.jpg
Born (1939-05-18) 18 May 1939 (age 85)
Pilsen, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Nationality Germany
Fields Physics
Institutions Carleton University
Forschungszentrum Jülich
University of Cologne
Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST)
Alma mater Darmstadt University of Technology
Doctoral advisor Stefan Hüfner
Known for Giant magnetoresistive effect
Notable awards Wolf Prize in Physics (2006)
European Inventor of the Year (2006)
Japan Prize 2007
Nobel Prize in Physics (2007)

Peter Andreas Grünberg (born 18 May 1939) is 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.[1]


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[2] family of Anna and Feodor A. Grünberg[3] which first lived in Dysina[4][5] (Dýšina) to the East of Pilsen.

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.[6] His mother Anna (who died in 2002 aged 100)[7] had to work in agriculture and stayed with her parents in the Petermann[8] house in Untersekerschan[9] (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.[10]

Grünberg received his intermediate diploma in 1962 from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt. He then attended the Darmstadt University of Technology, where he received his diploma in physics in 1966 and his Ph.D. in 1969. 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.[10]

Important work

Peter Grünberg playing guitar during his speech.

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).[11] 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[12] in the category "Universities and research institutions" by the European Patent Office and European Commission in 2006.

Selected publications

  • DE 3820475  "Magnetfeldsensor mit ferromagnetischer, dünner Schicht" filed on 16.06.1988
  • US 4949039  "Magnetic field sensor with ferromagnetic thin layers having magnetically antiparallel polarized components"
  • Grünberg, Peter, Y. Suzuki, T. Katayama, K. Takanashi, R. Schreiber, K. Tanaka. 1997. "The magneto-optical effect of Cr(001) wedged ultrathin films grown on Fe(001)". JMMM . 165, 134.
  • P. Grünberg, J.A. Wolf, R.Schäfer. 1996. "Long Range Exchange Interactions in Epitaxial Layered Magnetic Structures". Physica B 221, 357.
  • M. Schäfer, Q. Leng, R. Schreiber, K. Takanashi, P. Grünberg, W. Zinn. 1995. "Experiments on Interlayer Exchange Coupling" (invited at 5th NEC Symp., Karuizawa, Japan). J. of Mat. Sci. and Eng. . B31, 17.
  • A. Fert, P. Grünberg, A. Barthelemy, F. Petroff, W. Zinn (invited at ICM in Warsaw, 1994). 1995. "Layered magnetic structures: interlayer exchange coupling and giant magnetoresistance". JMMM. 140–144, 1.
  • P. Grünberg, A. Fuß, Q. Leng, R. Schreiber, J.A. Wolf. 1993. "Interlayer Coupling and its Relation to Growth and Structure". Proc. of NATO workshop on "Magnetism and Structure in Systems of Reduced Dimension", ed. by R.F.C. Farrow et al., NATO ASI Series B: Physics Vol. 309, p. 87, Plenum Press, N.Y. 1993.
  • A. Fuß, S. Demokritov, P. Grünberg, W. Zinn. 1992. "Short- and long period oscillations in the exchange coupling of Fe across epitaxially grown Al- and Au-interlayers". JMMM. 103, L211.
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  • P. Grünberg, R. Schreiber, Y. Pang, M.B. Brodsky, H. Sowers. 1986. "Layered Magnetic Structures: Evidence for antiferromagnetic coupling of Fe-layers across Cr-interlayers". Physical Review Letters. 57, 2442.


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  2. 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 [1]
  3. 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
  4. Heimatkreis Mies-Pilsen e. V
  5. Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft, „Kreisgruppe Hochtaunus“,20.11.2007 [2]
  6. Grünberg Theodor † 27. November 1945,
  7. Nobelpreisträger Grünberg aus Pilsen
  8. Photo 2,
  9. Photo 1,
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  11. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  12. European Inventor of the Year 2006 in the category "Universities and research institutions"

External links