School of Physics Hosts European Magnetic Symposia

Posted on: 16 September 2008

Trinity College’s School of Physics is hosting the Joint European Magnetic Symposia (JEMS)  Europe’s largest meeting devoted to the basic science and applications of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials this week.  More than 600 scientists from 41 countries are spending the week discussing the latest advances in this field. Highlights of the symposium include plenary lectures by the joint winners of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance, Peter Grünberg and Albert Fert.

The prize was awarded to Fert and Grünberg for the technology that is used to read data on hard disks. It is thanks to this technology that it has been possible to miniaturise hard disks so radically in recent years. A hard disk stores information, such as music, in the form of microscopically small areas magnetized in different directions. The information is retrieved by a read-out head that scans the disk and registers the magnetic changes. The smaller and more compact the hard disk, the smaller and weaker the individual magnetic areas. More sensitive read-out heads are therefore required if information has to be packed more densely on a hard disk. A read-out head based on the GMR effect can convert very small magnetic changes into differences in electrical resistance and therefore into changes in the current emitted by the read-out head.

The symposium has been organised by Professors  Michael Coey and Stefano Sanvito, and their colleagues in the School of Physics. Both carry out research on Spin Electronics in CRANN – Ireland’s nanoscience research institute.
The symposium has been organised in Plenary Sessions, and Specialised Symposia.

Some of the new topics being discussed are:
–  Switching magnetisation in an astonishingly short time of 40 x 10-15 s using ultrafast lasers – a result that has not been explained -Theo Rasing,University of Nijmegen
– Ferromagnetic nanostructures for data storage and logic – computers of the future -Caroline Ross, MIT
– Perspectives for the future of Spin Electronic -Albert Fert, Paris and Peter Grünberg, Julich  2007 Nobel Laureates in Physics
– Applications of magnetic nanoparticles for medical diagnostics and therapy –       Quentin Pankhurst Royal Institution, London