The 1988 discovery, made simultaneously in two European laboratories, of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) became the basis for the Nobel prize in physics two decades later. Companies like IBM rapidly commercialized the discovery, which paved the way for major advances in data storage commonly seen in computers and portable music players. GMR also helped catalyze a new field of research known as “spintronics” and provided a rationale for a major global investment in nanotechnology. This article examines the process through which a basic physics discovery was made and then commercialized. In this narrative, military agencies and commercial firms acting as “institutional entrepreneurs” fostered the growth of spintronics (and nanotechnology) in the post-Cold War environment. Finally, it concludes by exploring the validity of the linear model for research and the shifting boundaries between contemporary science and technology.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 58-81
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.