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Lighting the world

By Liu Xiangrui | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-14 10:24

Lighting the world

Playing ping-pong is Grunberg's hobby during his stay in the country.[Photo provided to China Daily]

German physicist Peter Grunberg, co-winner of a Nobel, not only inspires Chinese researchers but also plays ping-pong with them, Liu Xiangrui reports.

German physicist Peter Grunberg, who won the Nobel Prize in 2007 along with fellow French-born scientist Albert Fert for their work in the field of magnetism, has always urged Chinese researchers to target "simple but important discoveries".

The Fert-Grunberg discovery revolutionized reading data on hard disks and even made disk sizes smaller.

"Simple is not easy," Grunberg, 77, says in Beijing in a recent interview.

He believes more effort should be made in basic studies to achieve deeper understanding of the physical world, which can provide better service to humanity.

Since 2012, Grunberg has been a professor at Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications in East China's Jiangsu province, where he spends almost four months a year, and has played a crucial role in helping the university's researchers.

His connection with the university started in 2011.

He then met Wang Yongjin and Jiang Yuan, two faculty members of the university, who were in Germany on a program at Grunberg's research institute under the Juelich Research Center. The program was sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, established by the German government to promote international academic cooperation.

The university invited Grunberg to its 70th anniversary celebrations the following year.

"He had a good impression of the university, so we discussed the possibility of him coming to work here," Wang recalls.

Grunberg, who accepted the invitation, asked the university to take advantage of its specialty in information and communications.

With support from the provincial government, Grunberg was able to establish an international-level research center at the university to conduct experiments in materials, devices and integrated systems.

Under his leadership, the university researchers successfully manufactured a high-performance membrane-type InGaN/GaN LED (based on compound semiconductor materials) in 2014.

The research results were reported by Semiconductor Today, a British science journal.

Based on the results, they soon proposed and made the first integrated chip for visible-light communication and achieved other exciting results.

A scientific development plan recently released by China's government says "this direction" has been placed as top priority, Grunberg says.

"Through continuous exploration, scientists will obtain new concepts, which will bring revolutionary changes to GaN optoelectronic and optical communication industries," he says. "We are lighting the world."

Wang, who works closely with the German scientist in Nanjing, says Grunberg has greatly enhanced the university's academic status.

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