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Information Storage and Processing

The Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI) pursues a number of approaches to increase the energy efficiency, performance, and speed of data storage technologies. To this end, scientists investigate physical phenomena and the properties of materials and materials combinations on the nanoscale, such as in semiconductors and oxides. For example, the researchers study in what different ways data can be stored in bits (1/0): using the electric charge of electrons, the spin of electrons, or the special arrangement of atoms, ions, and organic molecules, known as “configurations”. This work serves as basic research for the development of components and component designs for computer chips. The scientists also keep a look out for materials suitable for entirely new physical phenomena, which could be used to store data.

Other approaches, for example those of quantum mechanics, go far beyond the processing of data using only two states. The objective is to make use of intermediate states of the smallest particles, as is required by quantum computing, or neuromorphic computing, which is inspired by the way the human brain functions.

A particularly close partnership exists with the “Future Information Technology” (FIT) section of the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA), a collaboration between Jülich and RWTH Aachen University. Two PGI subinstitutes are also JARA institutes: Green IT (PGI-10) and Quantum Information (PGI-11). JARA is the only cooperative model between a university and non-university research institution throughout Germany. It has several sections, one of which is JARA-FIT.

The Peter Grünberg Institute is named after Jülich’s Nobel Laureate in physics (2007), who was honoured for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance, also known as GMR effect, together with the French researcher Albert Fert. The discovery paved the way for the miniaturization of magnetic data storage devices.


Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI)

Quantum Theory of Materials (PGI-1/IAS-1)
Theoretical Nanoelectronics (PGI-2 / IAS-3)
Functional Nanostructures at Surfaces (PGI-3)
Scattering Methods (JCNS-2 / PGI-4)
Microstructure Research (ER-C-1 / PGI-5)
Electronic Properties (PGI-6)
Electronic Materials (PGI-7)
Semiconductor Nanoelectronics (PGI-9)
JARA Insitute Energy-efficient information technology (PGI-10)
JARA-Institute Quantum Information (PGI-11)

Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons (ER-C)

Physics of Nanoscale Systems (ER-C-1 / PGI-5)
Structural Biology (ER-C-3)