About us - Overview of HZB

Research topics at HZB

Iron oxide based nanostructures. At the Institute for Solar Fuels, HZB scientists are working on developing new material systems capable of storing energy from sunlight by converting it to chemical energy as efficiently as possible.

Energy materials comprise more than just solar cells. Energy materials also include solar fuels, thermoelectrics, and topological insulators. These are materials that store or convert energy, or enable construction of new energy-efficient information technologies like spintronics.

Scientists at HZB are researching these kinds of systems of materials, always with the emphasis on thin-film technologies. We are able to build on the know-how we already acquired in the area of thin-film photovoltaics and that HZB research is known for internationally. Now we are combining the outstanding means of analysis offered in particular at BESSY II and BER II with expanded expertise in materials synthesis, as well as in the field of simulation and theory. Especially interesting research advances at HZB are presented in our annual reports and highlights and through our "Research Highlights" web pages. You can learn more about the research programmes, scientific institutes, and the departments at HZB on our research pages.

Two sites

The research on energy materials at HZB is closely coupled with operation and advanced development of the BESSY II photon source situated in Berlin-Adlershof. In addition, there are numerous modern laboratories and infrastructure available both in Berlin-Wannsee and Berlin-Adlershof, such as the ZEISS Lab@location for innovative microscopy methodology in Wannsee or in Adlershof the competence centre for photovoltaics PVcomB, where scientists from HZB work together with industrial partners in co-operative R&D projects.  Additional laboratories primarily for synthesising energy materials will join these. Construction of a state-of-the-art laboratory (HEMF) for synthesis of energy materials, particularly for thin films of perovskite, nanoparticles displaying catalytic activity, and thin films for generation of solar fuels will begin in 2016.

These specialised laboratory facilities will be administrated at HZB as CoreLabs and are also available to external users. Everything you want to know about the two HZB sites at Berlin-Wannsee and Berlin-Adlershof, which welcome users equally, can be found at our On Site pages, including directions for visiting.


BESSY II aerial view, HZB, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen campus at night, © euroluftbild.de/Robert Grahn

Our large-scale facilities and their advanced development for research

The BESSY II photon source at the Berlin-Adlershof site is highly suited for analysing thin-film materials. With its emphasis on VUV and soft X-ray emissions, it offers ideal capabilities for investigating thin films as well as boundary surfaces. This makes BESSY II perfectly suited for research on energy materials.

One of our most important projects during the coming years is the transformation of BESSY II into a storage ring featuring variable light pulses (BESSY-VSR).

Experimenters at each instrument will able to select at any time whether they want short or long light pulses. There is no storage ring with this capability anywhere. Completely new experiments will become possible with BESSY-VSR. The design is innovative and has been unanimously welcomed by the scientific community. HZB received outstanding evaluations and an unambiguous recommendation to realise the design. You can find further information about this and other HZB projects already under construction, such as bERLinPro, at our web pages on projects coming in the future.

For those who find these pages perhaps too technical, we recommend they visit our HZB logbook of the future, HZBzlog. Here you will find multimedia presentations that give an impression of how research really happens. They show how the teams wrestle with the challenges, and to put it simply, how they do research and what they experience.

Besides BESSY II, researchers from the world over will continue to have access still to the BER II research reactor at the Berlin-Wannsee Campus for experiments using neutrons through the end of 2019.

Education, training, collaborations, and networking

HZB collaborates with over 400 German and international institutions of higher learning, research institutions, and commercial enterprises. All Institutes and departments in the HZB research divisions are headed by professors holding joint appointments. The Research Divisions are complemented by Young Investigator Groups as well as joint research groups, and the Joint Labs operated in conjunction with academic institutions. HZB has built up about ten Joint Labs with universities in the region as well as internationally.

More than 100 doctoral students from academic institutions in the region conduct research at HZB for their degrees. In addition, HZB is engaged in vocational training (German language only). About 50 trainees are employed in 12 vocational tracks at the Centre annually.

Visitors of BESSY II at the Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen campus in Adlershof during the Long Night of the Sciences.

HZB in society

HZB receives 90% of its funding from the German federal government and 10% from the State of Berlin. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association, which comprises 18 research institutions. Otherwise HZB is connected with regional and international collaborations such as Potsdam Research Network, pearls, the regional management Berlin SÜDWEST and the collaboration lightsources.org.

HZB employs about 1200 people – of which approximately 600 are at Berlin-Wannsee and 600 at Berlin-Adlershof – and operates with an annual budget of about 146 million Euros.

Roughly 7,400 persons visit HZB each year to acquaint themselves with the work of the research centre and to learn about the research facilities. HZB participates in the annual Long Night of the Sciences in Berlin and takes part in the annual nationwide Girl’s Day (German language only). The HZB "Insight into Matter" school lab offers project days for pupils in the 5th to 13th school years on the topics of magnetism, solar energy, light, as well as colour.

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Hahn-Meitner-Platz 1
14109 Berlin

Postal address:
Postfach 390128
14109 Berlin

+49 30 8062-0
+49 30 8062-42181