Born: 18 May 1939, Plzen, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)
Affiliation at the time of the award: Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany
Prize motivation: "for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance"
Field: condensed matter physics
Prize share: 1/2
When materials are reduced to just a few atomic layers - a few nanometers in thickness - their properties change. Independently of one another, Peter Grünberg and Albert Fert discovered the phenomenon Giant Magneto Resistance (GMR) in 1988. GMR involves small changes in magnetic fields creating major differences in electrical resistance. It has also had an impact on electronics, especially read heads, where information stored magnetically is converted to electric current. Thanks to GMR, hard drives have become much smaller.