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Our industry loses Peter Gruenberg, Giant Magnetoresistance pioneer

Dr. Peter Gruenberg passed away last week; many of you may not recognize the name, but he shared the Nobel-Prize in 2007 with Albert Fert for the independent discoveries they made about an effect called Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR).

This effect identifies tiny charges in a magnetic field that result in huge changes in electrical resistance in the order of 6% and 50% respectively. On the surface, this may not sound so Earth-shaking, but this effect is central to things like tablets and smart phones as well as GPS devices as well as our devices like iPods and MP3 players that store and play the music we so much love.

IBM’s 16.8 Gigabyte hard drive for desktop computers, with their spin valve structure, was a revolutionary development because of GMR.

But there are other, new applications for this technology popping up regularly like the application of GMR in the concept of a sensitive, chip-less, wireless and battery-free current sensor1 .

Wireless current sensor design with no ICs and no power supply. The device is composed of a GMR magnetic sensor and a one-port Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) delay line. (Image courtesy of Reference 1)

Wireless current sensor design with no ICs and no power supply. The device is composed of a GMR magnetic sensor and a one-port Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) delay line. (Image courtesy of Reference 1)

The current sensor is designed with a FeMn/NiFe/Cu/NiFe thin-film-based, spin valve meander structured GMR sensor and SAW device transponder integrated using standard microfabrication technology.

I am sure we will see many more applications for GMR devices in the years to come thanks to Gruenberg and Fert.

In 2014, I mention GMR in a Planet Analog article on teleportation: Teleportation, Quantum Mechanics & Quantum Bits

Reference

1 TOWARDS A WIRELESS CHIP LESS SMART CURRENT SENSOR SYSTEM BASED ON GIANT MAGNETORESISTANCE Vijay V. Kondalkar, Xiang Li, Sang Sik Yang, and Keekeun Lee, Transducers 2017, Kaohsiung, TAIWAN, June 18-22, 2017

3 comments on “Our industry loses Peter Gruenberg, Giant Magnetoresistance pioneer

  1. softy
    April 18, 2018

    Thanks for writing this article!  I had no knowledge of Peter Gruenberg, nor of his and Albert Fert's work.  GMR is a REALLY BIG DEAL!  And whether or not these guys' names are household words, everyone owes them a lot.  Hats off to them!

  2. Steve Taranovich
    April 18, 2018

    Hi Tim,

    You are correct; most people do not know their names, but I published this article so that many more engineers would know who these guys were. I am glad you found this educational.

  3. RituGupta
    August 19, 2018

    Something so trivial could help so much more than we would have anticipated. This is the kind of contributions users often overlook or take for granted. In the long run, we would all eventually see it though and we wouldn't know who is the one to honour until it is too late. Nevertheless, there will still come a time when we would all be grateful for each and every contribution ever done during the past so many years for the advantage we have today.

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