UC Berkeley News


LBNL lecture: 'The magic of magnetism'

12 October 2005

Joachim Stöhr
Most people have intuitive associations with the word "magnetism" based on everyday life: refrigerator magnets, the compass, North and South Poles, or someone's "magnetic personality." Few people, however, realize how complicated the phenomenon really is, how much research still deals with the topic today, and how much it penetrates our modern industrialized world - from electricity, to wireless communication at the speed of light, to magnetic data storage in computers.

In a lecture on Thursday, Oct. 20, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Joachim Stöhr, director of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), will provide a glimpse at the magic and science behind magnetism: its long history, scientific breakthroughs in its understanding, and its use in modern society. It will also address forefront issues in magnetism research and technology today, based on the manipulation of the electron spin, the fundamental magnetic building block. Such spin "doctoring" can be directly visualized by brilliant X-ray beams at LBNL's Advanced Light Source.

Stöhr is the fourth director in the pioneering Stanford synchrotron laboratory's 32-year history. SSRL provides experimental facilities to approximately 2,000 scientists from universities, industries, and other laboratories. Using synchrotron radiation - light at X-ray to ultraviolet wavelengths - the scientists carry out breakthrough research related to drug design, environmental cleanup, electronics, and many other fields.

Stöhr, a native of Germany, is well known for his leading studies in magnetic materials. His recent work has set a "speed limit" on the speed at which magnetized bits can change direction, which has a direct impact on information storage in computers. During his postdoctorate study at LBNL, he participated in the early days of synchrotron radiation experiments at SSRL.

"The Magic of Magnetism: From Physical Attraction to Spin Doctors" will be given on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 7:15 p.m. in LBNL's Building 50 Auditorium. Admission is free, but reservations are required. To save a place, send an e-mail to friendsofscience@lbl.gov or contact the Community Relations Office at 486-7292. Reserved parking will be available after 5:30 p.m. at the Building 54 lot, where signs will direct visitors to Building 50 Auditorium.

In addition, Berkeley Lab shuttle buses will bring people to the lab from the downtown BART station (at the shuttle stop next to the Wells Fargo bank) and return them to BART after the lecture.