Each year the IEEE Magnetics Society honours one of its outstanding members for his or her lifetime professional achievement. This is the highest award of the Society and is given for scientific and technical achievements. The award is presented at the INTERMAG conference each year, and consists of a diploma with citation and a cash prize.
Professor Luc Berger receives the 2016 Achievement Award for “for contributions to theoretical studies on metallic ferromagnets crucial to data storage, nanotechnology and magnetism, including SWASER, current-induced switching, spin-transfer torque, relaxation, and domain wall resistance. “Professor Berger received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) in 1955 and 1960, respectively. After graduating, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, before becoming an instructor in 1961. In 1963, he was made an Assistant Professor at CMU, followed by a 1967 promotion to Associate Professor, then Full Professor in 1974. He was visiting Associate Professor of Physics at UCLA in 1973-1974. Professor Berger became emeritus in 1995.
As noted in the citation, Professor Berger has made many contributions to magnetism particular at the atomic and nanoscale. He is best known for theoretically predicting spin-transfer torque, which represents the transfer of angular momentum from a polarized current to a ferromagnet. It directly leads to the possibility of current induced control over magnetic nanostructures. It enables devices such as spin-torque RAM, wherein information is stored in small magnetic elements written according to the direction of the applied current. Such technologies are inherently nonvolatile and are often considered to be a possible successor to such ubiquitous semiconductor technologies as DRAM. The spin transfer torque effect can also produce oscillations of the magnetization of a nanoscale element at microwave frequencies: These spin-torque oscillators may become important for technologies such as communications. He has also drawn interesting analogies between spin transfer torque effects and other physical phenomena such as the Josephson effect and semiconductor lasers.
Professor Berger is a member of the American Physical society and the IEEE Magnetics Society. In 2013, he, with John Slonczewski, received the highly prestigious 2013 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize from the American Physical Society.
Professor Berger joins a distinguished list of past recipients: Fred Luborsky (1981), Herb Storm (1982), Harold Lord (1984), Joe Suozzi (1985), Fritz Friedlaender (1986), Andrew Bobeck (1987), Floyd Humphrey (1988), Paul Biringer (1989), Daniel Gordon (1990), Emerson Pugh (1991), Yoshifumi Sakurai (1992), William Doyle (1993), Richard Barker (1994), Mark Kryder (1995), Koosuke Harada (1996), Gordon Slemon (1997), Stan Charap (1998), Dave Thompson (1999), Denis Mee (2000), Fred Hagedorn (2001), Sun-ichi Iwasaki (2002), Carl Patton (2003), Yutaka Sugita (2004), Robert Fontana (2005), Neal Bertram (2006), John C. Mallinson (2007), Jack H. Judy (2008), Roger Wood (2009), Isaak Mayergoyz (2010), Jian- Gang (Jimmy) Zhu (2011), John Slonczewski (2012), Michael Mallary (2013), Randall Victora (2014), and Takao Suzuki (2015).