Paris, October 9, 2007

2007 Physics Nobel Prize awarded to French physicist Albert Fert

The 2007 Nobel Prize for physics has just been awarded to Albert Fert, Professor at the University of Paris-Sud 11, a scientific director at the CNRS/Thales Joint Physics Unit (associated with the University of Paris-Sud 11), and winner of the 2003 CNRS Gold Medal, the 2007 Japan Prize and the 2007 Wolf Prize. It rewards his discovery of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) and his contribution to the development of spin electronics, or spintronics. GMR was in particular at the origin of high-performance magnetic read heads, which are today used in all hard drives. The prize was also awarded to Peter Grünberg, who with his team in Jülich, Germany, obtained similar experimental results at almost exactly the same time.

Albert Fert's research in the field of nanosciences, and especially his discovery of giant magnetoresistance, has already had a major impact on information and communications technologies. Since 1997, all hard disk drive read heads have used the giant magnetoresistance of magnetic multilayers in order to read the information recorded on magnetic disks. The performance of such heads has made it possible to multiply the amount of information stored on one disk a hundredfold.


Giant magnetoresistance was discovered in 1988 as part of a collaboration between a team led by Albert Fert (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud 11) and Thales (then Thomson-CSF). The discovery led to the emergence of a new kind of electronics, called spintronics, which, like GMR, makes use of the influence of electron spin on electrical conduction.  Albert Fert and the CNRS/Thales Joint Physics Unit have made a significant contribution to the development of spintronics, especially in the field of so-called spin transfer phenomena, which will have major applications such as the switching of magnetic memory devices and the construction of radiofrequency/hyperfrequency oscillators for professional electronics. Spintronics is today a booming nanoscience. The trend is toward hybrid systems that associate magnetic materials with semiconductors or molecules, which promises numerous applications in the fields of information technology and telecommunications.




Albert Fert was born in Carcassonne on 7 March 1938. He is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and holds a Doctorate in Physical Sciences. From 1962 to 1976, Albert Fert was a lecturer at the University of Grenoble, and then at the University of Paris-Sud 11, until 1976, when he was appointed Professor at the University of Paris-Sud 11. From 1970 to 1995, Albert Fert led a research team at the Solid State Physics Laboratory (Laboratoire de physique des solides ) at the Faculty of Sciences at Orsay. In 1995 he was one of the founders of the CNRS/Thales Joint Physics Unit. He is a Member of the French Academy of Sciences.
All through his career, Albert Fert has won numerous awards:
- International Prize for New Materials, American Physical Society (1994)
- Magnetism Award, International Union for Pure and Applied Physics (1994)
- Grand prix de physique Jean Ricard, Société Française de Physique (1994)
- Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize, European Physical Society (1997)
- CNRS Gold Medal (2003)

- Japan Prize (2007)

- Wolf Prize (2007)

He has published nearly 300 articles, one of which figures in the top ten most quoted articles in the journal Physical Review Letters.



© Other images of Albert Fert can be obtained from the CNRS photo library (photothèque du CNRS). 01 45 07 57 90 –

Albert Fert


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