40 years of research with synchrotron light in Berlin

A view of the experimental hall at BESSY II.

A view of the experimental hall at BESSY II.

© S. Steinbach / HZB

Outside view of BESSY II light source. The significant facility is built like a ring with a circumference of 240 m.

Outside view of BESSY II light source. The significant facility is built like a ring with a circumference of 240 m.

© V. Mai / HZB

Scientists work at nearly 50 stations in the experimental hall.

Scientists work at nearly 50 stations in the experimental hall.

© S. Steinbach / HZB

This is how BESSY I looked like 40 years ago.

This is how BESSY I looked like 40 years ago.

© HZB

The first light source was built 1979-1981 and started operation in 1982.

The first light source was built 1979-1981 and started operation in 1982.

© HZB

BESSY I was located in Wilmersdorf and brought many scientists from all over the world. After 16 years BESSY II a new facility took over.

BESSY I was located in Wilmersdorf and brought many scientists from all over the world. After 16 years BESSY II a new facility took over.

© HZB

Press release _ Berlin, 14 September: For decades, science in Berlin has been an important driver of innovation and progress. Creative, talented people from all over the world come together here and develop new ideas from which we all benefit as a society. Many discoveries – from fundamental insights to marketable products – are made by doing research with synchrotron light. Researchers have had access to this intense light in Berlin for 40 years. It inspires many scientific disciplines and is an advantage for Germany.

In September 1982, the first electron storage ring officially went into operation in Berlin-Wilmersdorf under the name BESSY (Berliner Elektronenspeicherring-Gesellschaft für Synchrotronstrahlung). In order to create this coveted synchrotron light, electrons are accelerated to near light speed in a circle. As they race around at this speed they emit special light, which scientists can use to look inside their samples. The successor facility in Berlin-Adlershof, BESSY II, is also based on this principle. It produced its first light beam in 1998 and is operated by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB). Presently, the facility receives around 2700 visits per year from guest researchers from everywhere in the world. It will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in September 2023.

Energy research is the driving force

Since the generation of the first beam, the possibilities of researching with synchrotron light have expanded considerably. Perhaps the most important experiments being done today are those for researching the materials we need for an efficient energy supply. Researchers at BESSY II are developing solar cells and materials for powerful batteries, for example. Also literally in the focus of the light at BESSY II are new thin-film catalysts for producing green hydrogen. Synchrotron light is furthermore perfectly suited to researching materials used in low-energy information technologies.

Synchrotron light attracts talents and is a source of inspiration

In the last 40 years, our societal challenges have changed radically. In response, the means for performing experiments at BESSY II have been continually adapted and upgraded. This has always been done in close collaboration with partners and users from all over the world. As these changes unfold, synchrotron light remains a source of inspiration and brings together people from all different disciplines.

“Interesting experimental opportunities attract creative talents and bring a boost to fields and research communities. We see this currently in the research into catalysts: synchrotron light is essential for developing industrially relevant catalysts ‘made in Berlin’ for the green hydrogen economy,” says the scientific director of HZB, Prof. Bernd Rech.

40 years of accelerator know-how in Berlin

The operation of the BESSY II accelerator is highly complex. For decades, Berlin and HZB have succeeded in training and retaining the necessary engineering and scientific experts. So that Germany and the world continue to benefit from synchrotron light over the next decade and beyond, the accelerator specialists of HZB are collaborating intensively with partners on the concept for a successor source, BESSY III.

Visits for media representatives

We cordially invite representatives of the media to visit the accelerator BESSY II and are happy to put you in touch with experts on the following topics:

-          Energy turnaround and expansion of photovoltaics
-          Catalysts for producing green hydrogen
-          Powerful, long-lasting batteries and energy stores
-          Accelerator research & development 
- Quantum materials
- Life sciences / Research about the corona virus

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