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Stuart Stephen Papworth Parkin is an experimental physicist, IBM Fellow and manager of the magnetoelectronics group at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. He is also a consulting professor in the Department of Applied Physics at Stanford University and director of the IBM-Stanford Spintronic Science and Applications Center, which was formed in 2004.
Parkin, a pioneer in the science and application of spintronic materials, made discoveries into the behavior of thin-film magnetic structures that were critical in enabling recent increases in the data density and capacity of computer hard-disk drives. Building on the work of Fert and Grunberg who identified giant magnetoresistance in oscillatory interlayer coupling in magnetic multilayers, he discovered the same effect in sputter deposited magnetic metallic heterostructures in 1989 - the spin valve - which led to IBM's development of the spin-valve read head, which enabled a more than 1,000-fold increase in magnetic hard disk drive data density.
Parkin also proposed using magnetic tunneling junction storage elements to create a high performance magnetic random access memory in 1995. MRAM promises unique attributes of high speed, high density and non-volatility. The development by Parkin in 2001 of giant tunneling magnetoresistance in magnetic tunnel junctions using highly textured MgO tunnel barriers has made MRAM even more promising. IBM developed the first MRAM prototype in 1999 and is currently developing a 16 Mbit chip.
Most recently, Parkin has proposed and is working on a novel storage class memory device, The Magnetic Racetrack memory, which could replace both hard disk drives and many forms of conventional solid state memory. His research interests also include spin transistors and spin-logic devices that may enable a new generation of low-power electronics.
A native of Watford, England, Parkin received his B.A. (1977) and was elected a Research Fellow (1979) at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, and was awarded his Ph.D. (1980) at the Cavendish Laboratory, also in Cambridge. He joined IBM in 1982 as a World Trade Post-doctoral Fellow, becoming a permanent member of the staff the following year. In 1999 he was named an IBM Fellow, IBM's highest technical honor.
Parkin's research interests include organic superconductors, high-temperature superconductors, and, most recently, magnetic thin film structures and spintronic materials and devices for advanced sensor, memory, and logic applications. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, the Institute of Physics (London), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Gutenberg Research College (GRC). Parkin is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Gutenberg Research Award (2008), a Humboldt Research Award (2004), the 1999-2000 American Institute of Physics Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics, the European Physical Society's Europhysics Prize (1997), the American Physical Society's International New Materials Prize (1994), the MRS Outstanding Young Investigator Award (1991) and the Charles Vernon Boys Prize from the Institute of Physics, London (1991). In 2001, he was named R&D Magazine’s first Innovator of the Year and in October 2007 was awarded the Economist Magazine’s “No Boundaries” Award for Innovation.
In 2007 Parkin was named a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore, a Visiting Chair Professor at the National Taiwan University, and an Honorary Visiting Professor at University College London, The United Kingdom. In 2008, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The Materials Research Network Dresden granted him the Dresden Barkhausen Award 2009. Parkin has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Aachen, Germany and the Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands. Parkin has authored more than 350 papers and has more than 60 issued patents.
- IBM-Stanford Spintronic Science and Applications Center
- Election to U.S. National Academy of Sciences
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