Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Two methods – one goal: penetrating the secrets of nature with photons and neutrons Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) employs approximately 1,100 staff, of whom 800 work at Wannsee and 300 at Adlershof. It has a total budget of about 110 million Euros. At present, several professorships are vacant, and appointment procedures will be conducted in collaboration with the universities of Berlin and Potsdam. About 100 doctoral candidates from the neighbouring universities are involved in research and training at HZB. Outside the Berlin-Brandenburg region, HZB cooperates with more than 400 partners at German and international universities, research institutions and in companies.

Large scale facilities for research

HZB operates two large scale scientific facilities for investigating the structure and function of matter:  the research reactor BER II, for experiments with neutrons, and the electron storage ring BESSY II, producing an ultra bright photon beam ranging from Terahertz to hard X-rays. Both facilities provide research opportunities for the study of matter and provide a highly specialised sample environment in which experiments can be carried out under the most sophisticated conditions (high magnetic fields, low temperatures, high pressure). The continued development of these unique instruments is a major focus of the centre (e.g. the future oriented high field magnet project). Every year, HZB’s user service enables some 3,000 external scientists (from 35 countries to date) to access measuring methods, which in some cases are quite unique. The aim is to further the complementary use of neutrons and photons to gain a more complete picture of matter.

HZB operates two further large scale facilities for external institutions: an accelerator for the Charité, producing proton beams for eye tumour therapy (at Wannsee), and the Metrology Light Source, an optimised storage ring for the Physikalisch-Technische-Bundesanstalt (at Adlershof).

Materials for tomorrow

What is the relationship between the technical properties of a material and its microscopic structure? This is the issue engaging scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie. In their research they address the atomic and magnetic structure of solid state matter and how it functions on the atomic scale. The structure-property relationship of materials is a focus area, as are the inner dynamics and phase transitions in condensed matter. Topics which contribute to the development of instrumentation and methods, particularly within materials research and analysis, are a major area of investigation. The complementary use of photons and neutrons is a primary approach. New results are expected in a number of fields, such as magnetism and supra-conductivity. 

Research for the next generation of solar cells

In the area of solar energy scientists are conducting research on the next generation of solar cells, including new classes of materials and innovative cell structures. The long-term goals include efficient and competitive thin film solar cells and multispectral cells. HZB is already the largest institutional unit in Germany in the area of thin films, not only developing new materials but also investigating innovative technologies in parallel. The gap between the basic research conducted at HZB and industrial development will be closed by the centre of excellence for photovoltaics, which is currently being established by HZB in cooperation with the Technical University Berlin and other partners.