Nobel Laureate Albert Fert to speak at CSU Nov. 13

Albert FertNobel Laureate and influential scientist Albert Fert will deliver a free public lecture at Colorado State University, 7 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Lory Student Center Grand Ballroom.

Fert’s work in condensed matter physics underlies the technology that enabled the creation of the modern hard drive. He is in part to thank for the ability to store immense amounts of photos, songs, and movies on your laptop – rather than needing a hulking piece of machinery just to save a text document.

Fert’s public lecture, “The Route from Fundamental Science to Innovation” will examine the source of these and other technological advances that impact our lives every day. He will also deliver a technical talk at 5 p.m. Nov. 14 in Hammond Auditorium (Department of Physics room 120) titled “Recent Advances on Magnetic Skyrmions,” detailing news from the burgeoning field he has helped to shape.

Pure to practical

Albert Fert and his research group at the University of Paris-Sud discovered giant magnetoresistance in 1988, the same year a research team led by Peter Grünbergs in Germany found the same effect. For these independent discoveries, Fert and Grünbergs were jointly awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics.

nobel medalThe giant magnetoresistance is a quantum effect observed in a metallic sandwich-like structure consisting of two magnetic layers and a non-magnetic layer in between. A change in the magnetization direction in one of the magnetic layers causes a significant change in the electrical resistance of the structure.

This discovery also sparked the influential field of spintronics, which might make possible a new generation of miniaturized electronics. Fert continues to pursue research in this field, as do faculty from Colorado State University, including Professor of Physics Mingzhong Wu. Wu is among the first to use non-polarized light to produce spin voltage and to show a new way of switching magnetization direction.

As Fert will detail in his lecture, “important recent advances in the technologies of information and communications, such as hard disks for information storage of high capacity or new types of memory for low-power computers, come from breakthroughs in pure fundamental science.”

“We are very pleased that we will have the chance to hear Dr. Fert’s insights,” said Chair of the Department of Physics Professor Jake Roberts. “This is a great chance for our students, faculty, staff and the community to learn the story of how fundamental research in physics led to one of the more notable discoveries of our world.”

Fert is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris-Sud and the scientific director of a joint laboratory for the National Scientific Research Center and the Thales Group in Paris. He received his Ph.D. and Sc.D. from the University of Paris. He has been recognized with numerous other awards, including the International Prize for New Materials from the American Physical Society, the Europhysics Prize of the European Physical Society, the Gold Medal of the French National Scientific Research Center, and the Japan Prize, among others.

Fert’s visit to CSU is sponsored by the Department of Physics.