Gutenberg Research Award 2008 for Stuart Parkin of IBM

Close collaboration sought between the Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" and the prize winner


The Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ) awarded Professor Dr. Stuart Parkin of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California this year’s Gutenberg Research Award. Parkin received the award for his significant research contributions aiding in the understanding of giant magnetoresistance. He also made a significant contribution to the development of reader heads for computer hard disks using this effect. The award is worth EUR 20,000 and also provides a guest residency for the researcher at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Further collaboration and exchange programs will follow.

The director of the MAINZ Graduate School, Professor Dr. Claudia Felser, honored Parkin as an outstanding and excellent scientist who had already received many awards and prizes. "With the award of the Gutenberg Research Award to Professor Stuart Parkin, we want to highlight his outstanding scientific achievements and, at the same time, open the door to future research collaboration," said Felser. Parkin will work in Mainz and Kaiserslautern with the team of researchers of the Research Unit 559 "New Materials with High Spin Polarization," which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). "His particular interest lies in the question of whether our Heusler materials are suitable for three-dimensional magnetic storage media."

Peter Grünberg and Albert Fert, laureate of the Gutenberg Lecture Award 2006, received the Nobel Prize in 2007 for their discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR). Parkin's remarkable contribution lies in revealing the correlation between the oscillation behavior of the intermediate layer coupling and the thickness of the layer. The work on high magnetoresistance at room temperature led to the development of the reader heads in hard disks based on GMR. Stuart Parkin was a significant contributor to this development at IMB. "At the beginning of his scientific career, Stuart Parkin also worked on other research areas closely related to high-temperature superconductors where he is now returning. He is thus a scientist who has extended his expertise all the way to ultracold quantum gases," explained Felser.

Besides his outstanding applied research with IBM and his excellent basic research, Parkin's abilities as an enthusiastic lecturer stand out. It is planned that Stuart Parkin will come to Mainz for several longer stays of a couple of weeks – to the benefit not only of the doctoral candidates, but also of the regular students. "It is just the application of his research that is highly significant for the training and education of our students," said the MAINZ director. An on-going exchange of students and post-doctoral fellow is planned to establish long-term collaboration.

The Gutenberg Research Award is an important means for the transfer of research. Many of the researchers of the MAINZ Graduate School and the DFG-funded Research Unit 559 have already been collaborating for many years with IBM at sites in Mainz, in Rüschlikon in Switzerland, and Almaden in the USA. In the past, collaboration was focused on spintronics. Two major research initiatives into solar energy have now been added.

The Graduate School "Materials Science in Mainz" is one of the initiatives selected as part of the Federal Excellence Initiative competition consisting of working groups at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Technical University at Kaiserslautern, and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. It offers excellent students from Germany and abroad an outstanding education in the materials sciences.