CNRS Honored by Nobel Awards
© C. Lebedinsky/CNRS phototèque
Albert Fert, nobel prize in physics.
The physics prize goes to Albert Fert, a Franco-German lab gets the chemistry prize, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)–which includes a number of CNRS researchers–is awarded the peace prize: 2007 was a good year for CNRS.
First and foremost is Albert Fert, who at the age of 69 was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in physics together with the German scientist Peter Gründberg. On October 9th, the day he was awarded the prize, Fert answered a few teenagers asking why so many journalists were crowding around him on a Paris street: “I’m a physicist, and the reason you can listen to music on your MP3 player is partly due to what I’ve done.” Albert Fert is the twelfth French physicist to receive the prestigious Swedish award, which has yet again honored French research–ten years after Claude Cohen-Tannoudji’s prize. CNRS President Catherine Bréchignac “warmly congratulated the researcher,” whom she has “known for a long time,” and who she had been hoping would win this highest of awards that he so richly deserved.
“Albert Fert’s work illustrates in exemplary fashion the fact that fundamental research can lead to applications that could not have been foreseen at the start. We’re absolutely delighted with this major success, which bears witness to the quality of French physics,” adds Michel Lannoo, scientific director of the CNRS MPPU department.1
Albert Fert, Professor at the University of Paris-Sud and scientific director of the CNRS/Thales Joint Unit in physics, and Peter Gründberg, researcher at the Research Institute for Solid State Research in Jülich, Germany, were awarded the prize for independently discovering the giant magnetoresistance effect (GMR) in 1988 (see article p. 6). This technology has led to a spectacular miniaturization of hard disks. The information in these magnetic storage devices is a hundred times denser and is read by more sensitive read heads. They have been used since 1997 in nearly all computers–especially laptops and portable music players. For French Research Minister Valérie Pécresse, Fert is a “pioneer who has broken down the barriers between public and private research, and between fundamental and applied research.”
CNRS is also delighted that the Nobel prize in chemistry has gone to Gerhard Ertl, former director of the Fritz-Haber-Institut at the Max Planck Society, with whom six years ago, CNRS and the Louis Pasteur University set up the European associated laboratory ELCASS (European Laboratory for Catalysis and Surface Sciences). And, last but not least, congratulations to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with the former US Vice-President Al Gore. This rewards the work of several thousand scientists from all over the world, several of whom are from CNRS, like Hervé le Treut, Jean-Claude Duplessy, Dominique Raynaud, Didier Hauglustaine, Sandrine Bony, Pierre Friedlingstein, and Minh Ha Duong, as well as Jean Jouzel, who was awarded the CNRS Gold Medal in 2002.
1. Mathematics, Physics, Planets and Universe.