Nanotechnology has received the imprimatur to say that the materials phenomenon known as giant magnetoresistance (GMR) is one of its first applications from none other than the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
GMR â''can be considered one of the first real applications of the promising field of nanotechnology,â'' says the Nobel citation that awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics to Albert Fert of UniversitÃ© Paris-Sud in France and Peter GrÃ¿nberg of Forschungszentrum JÃ¿lich in Germany for their independent co-discovery of GMR back in 1988.
Beyond this being a boost to the field of nanotechnology (basically nanotechnology is now attributed with the technology that makes it possible to read data on todayâ''s hard disk drives), it represents one of the most astonishingly fast developments of the discovery of a physical phenomenon to a commercial product.
From the weird world of quantum physics a quantum mechanical effect is discovered and in the span of less than 10 years it makes possible the extremely large hard disk drives we currently enjoy in our computers.
Much of the credit for that feat should go to Stuart Parkin at IBMâ''s Almaden Research Center. He did much of the work that took GMR from a material phenomenon to a practical device for the electronics industry.
I am not sure how the Nobel Prize committee chooses their winners, but this seems an odd omission not to have included Parkin in the prize.
But this doesnâ''t seem to have affected Parkin in the slightest. He is right back at it by proposing a novel memory device that uses nanowires that could â''reinventâ'' memory.