The 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics: Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg
GMR and spintronics take their roots in the pioneering work of Albert Fert around 1970 on the influence of the spin on the mobility of electrons in ferromagnetic materials . After having experimentally demonstrated that, in a ferromagnetic metal, the electrons of opposite spin directions (spin up and spin down along the magnetization axis) carry different currents (as originally suggested by Mott), Fert worked out the well known two current model of the electrical conduction in ferromagnetic metals. He also showed that very large spin asymmetries of the conduction can be obtained by doping the ferromagnetic metal with impurities selected to scatter very differently the spin up and spin down electrons (iron or cobalt impurities in nickel, for example, scatter the spin down electrons 20 times more strongly than the spin up electrons). Moreover, some experiments of Fert on ternary alloys were already introducing the idea that he will exploit later to produce the GMR effects. He showed that the resistivity of a ternary alloy, for example N 1-x (A x-y ,B y ), is strongly enhanced if the scattering by the impurities A and B have inverse spin asymmetries. Replacing the impurities A and B by magnetic layers A and B, one equally expects a large enhancement of the resistivity when their magnetizations are in opposite directions, which the basic concept of the GMR. However, this concept can work only if the thickness of the layers is in the nanometer range. The fabrication of multilayers with thicknesses in this range became technologically possible in the mid-eighties and, in particular, the growth of magnetic multilayers by Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) was developed in the groups of Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg.
KeywordsMolecular Beam Epitaxy Nobel Prize Magnetic Layer Spin Asymmetry Spin Valve
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- B. Georges et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. (2008).Google Scholar