Grünberg's work on magnetic materials started a revolution in the field of magnetic storage in the 1990s. Thus, the enormous performance of today's computer hard disks is based considerably on the phenomenon of the "giant magnetoresistance" discovered by Peter Grünberg and Albert Fert from France. For this discovery, both researchers were honored with the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Gerhard Ertl received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on chemical reactions on the surface of solid materials. Such reactions are used in the form of "catalysis" for instance by the chemical industry in the production of fertilizers. Moreover, they purify exhaust gases and allow fuel cells to produce electrical power. Material surfaces are the stage on which atoms and molecules react with each other. For today’s knowledge of the details Ertl’s investigations have been crucial.
The Nobel Prize is being awarded to Professor Hänsch in recognition for work that he did at the end of the 1990s at the Max Planck Institute in Garching, near Munich. He developed an optical "frequency comb synthesiser", which makes it possible, for the first time, to measure with extreme precision the number of light oscillations per second. These optical frequency measurements can be millions of times more precise than previous spectroscopic determinations of the wavelength of light.
Ketterle received the Nobel Prize together with the two US Americans Eric A. Cornell and Carl E. Wieman for the realization of the Bose-Einstein condensation. Einstein had predicted this phenomenon on the basis of a work by the young Indian physicist Satyendra Nat Bose in the year 1924. But the verification required extremely low temperatures, which could not be generated before the nineties of the last century.
Therefore the confirmation of the phenomenon was not successful until the experiments of the three Nobel laureates which they did since 1995 at temperatures of less than 170 billionth degrees Kelvin.
The characteristics of the Bose-Einstein condensation perfectly coincided with the predictions made by Einstein more than 70 years ago.
Paul Josef Crutzen
by their ground-breaking achievements Paul Crutzen, Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland enabled to explain the chemical processes of ozone generation and degradation. Their most important contribution is that they have demonstrated how sensitively the ozone layer reacts on the emission of certain air contaminations caused by humans.
It has become obvious that the thin ozone layer is a weak spot of mankind, because it could seriously be damaged by apparently moderate changes in composition of the atmosphere.
By their revelation of the chemical mechanisms controlling the concentration of the atmospheric ozone and also by their alerting prediction of the consequences of an unchecked emission of ozone destructing gases, the three scientists contributed to save us from a global environmental problem, which could cause catastrophic consequences.
Johannes Georg Bednorz und K. Alex Müller Bednorz received the Nobel Prize in Physics together with the Swiss physicists K. Alex Müller for his discovery of the high temperature superconduction.
It is known already since 1911 that many metals lose the electrical resistance at -269 degree Celsius, and hence conduct electricity without loss.
However, a practical implementation of this insight in technics was not possible because such temperatures can only be generated under extraordinary efforts. Bednorz and Müller discovered that superconduction could also be achieved with copper oxide ceramics at only -140 degree Celsius, hence in a temperature area, which could be achieved with a significantly lower effort.
Klaus von Klitzing
Klaus von Klitzing received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the quantum Hall effect. This quantum effect for the electrical resistance was experimentally discovered in 1980 and was the basis for the determination of a basic constant, the von Klitzing constant, which is used for the exact calibration of measurement devices. The physicist discovered the effect during an experiment under extremely low temperatures and extremely high magnetic fields.
The insights also had far-reaching consequences for the comprehension of quantum effects and therefore for the question of the matter architecture.