Research Highlights 20 years BESSY II: 1998 - 2018


  • 2018: “Twin Orbit User Test Week” is a big success

2018: Efficiency of metal-free photocatalysts increased

Polymerous carbon nitrides make for good catalysts in the production of solar hydrogen. Using the soft X-ray light from BESSY II, researchers discovered what role nanostructures play in the process. They increased the efficiency of these affordable metal-free materials by a factor of eleven. > to the news


Paper: Nature comms 2017. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14885 Bild: 10.1038/ncomms14885

Paper: Nature comms 2017. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14885 Picture: 10.1038/ncomms14885


2016: New data storage: magnetic patterns in thin films

Researchers have found a way to produce exotic magnetic patterns like monopoles or vortexes in thin magnetic layers. At BESSY II, they mapped the magnetic domains within an iron-nickel film. The material is considered a candidate for future magnetic storage media. > to the news


Paper: Energy & Environ. Science 2016. DOI: 10.1039/C6EE00402D Bild: HZB

Paper: Energy & Environ. Science 2016. DOI: 10.1039/C6EE00402D Picture: HZB


  • 2016: Testing hall EMIL Laboratory is opened at BESSY II
  • 2016: Topping-out ceremony for bERLin-Pro
  • 2015: Technical design study BESSY VSR

2015: Meteorites reveal details about our early solar system

Geologists studied samples of a pallasite meteorite at BESSY II. They identified tiny particles that had aligned themselves magnetically in an early phase of the solar system. The meteorite had thus saved data, so to speak, about our early solar system like a hard drive. > to the news


Bild: P. Zaslansky, Zahnwurzelbehandlung

Picture: P. Zaslansky, Zahnwurzelbehandlung


2014: New treatment concept against cancer

A Swedish team discovered a new treatment approach against cancer. It blocks the enzyme MTH1, which cancer cells need to survive – but normal cells don’t. They decrypted the enzyme structure at BESSY II and obtained valuable information for developing active substances that will block the enzyme. > to the news


Fig. from the Paper: Nature Chemistry 2013. DOI: 10.1038/ NCHEM.1572 Bild: Georg Heimel/HU Berlin

Paper: Nature Chemistry 2013. DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.1572 Picture: Georg Heimel/HU Berlin


  • 2013: Concept study for the upgrade from BESSY II to BESSY VSR

2012: Graphene on nickel

Graphene consists of carbon atoms connected in a single layer to form a flat hexagonal lattice. Graphene is also highly conductive. If graphene is deposited onto nickel, it develops distortions in the lattice. The electrons of graphene behave more like light and less like particles, studies at BESSY II have shown. This mechanism is of great interest for practical applications. > to the news


Fig. from the Paper: Science 2012. DOI:10.1126/science. 1223264 Bild: Christopher Pöhlker/ MPI für Chemie

Paper: Science 2012. DOI:10.1126/science. 1223264 Picture: Christopher Pöhlker/MPI für Chemie


2012: Viking treasure from Oseberg

At BESSY II, Norwegian conservators studied a rapidly disintegrating wooden wagon from a Viking grave near the fjords of Oslo. It had been previously treated with alum, which had since greatly modified the wood fibres. The results are a help in finding new preservation methods for saving such cultural treasures. > to the news


  • 2012: BESSY II is converted to top-up mode
  • 2012: FEMTOSPEX upgrade

Fig. from the Paper: Current Biology 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.08.006 Bild: F. Wieder, A. Hilger/HZB

Paper: Current Biology 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.08.006 Picture: F. Wieder, A. Hilger/HZB


2011: Ultra-fast magnetic reversal

At BESSY II, a team observed a new effect in an alloy of gadolinium, iron and cobalt. Using ultrafast light pulses, they showed that the magnetic alignment of the iron atoms reverses five times faster than that of gadolinium. This results in short-term strong magnetisation, and could speed up data processing. > to the news


  • 2011: The LINAC pre-accelerator is installed

Fig. from the Paper: Nature Methods 2010. DOI:10.1038/nmeth. 1533 Bild: G. Schneider/HZB

Paper: Nature Methods 2010. DOI:10.1038/nmeth. 1533 Picture: G. Schneider/HZB


  • 2010: The MX Lab for Protein Crystallography is founded
  • 2009: BESSY II is integrated into the Helmholtz Association and merges with the Hahn- Meitner-Institut to form the Helmholtz- Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie HZB

2007: Reading the book lung

Scorpions have a type of lung consisting of air pockets that are packed together in a way that resembles a book. In the X-ray light of BESSY II, a team made the first non-destructive 3D analysis of the detailed structure of this book lung.


  • 2005:First suggestions for BESSY VSR
  • 2005: First femto­slicing experiment with ultra-short X-ray pulses

Fig from Paper: BESSY Jahresbericht 2004, S. 32 Bild: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid= 34865586

Paper: BESSY Jahresbericht 2004, S. 32 Picture: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34865586


2003: The Nebra Sky Disk

The sky disk discovered in 1999 is from the Bronze Age. Researchers examined it on the BAM beamline of BESSY II and discovered the gold did not originate in Romania, as expected, but in Cornwall, England. From this, conclusions can be drawn about trade routes 4000 years ago.


  • 2002: Start of low-alpha mode for short electron pulses for time-resolved experiments
  • 1998: BESSY II commences operation (1994 Groundbreaking ceremony)