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This programme is devoted to analysing and modifying the structure, dynamics and function of matter and materials by the use of large-scale facilities in close collaboration with users from academic science and industry. Current challenges include

  • the understanding of transient states in solid materials, molecules and biosystems,
  • an improved knowledge of complex matter and the ability to derive intelligent functionalities,
  • the rational design of new materials for energy, transport and information technologies,
  • the improvement of the molecular design of agents,
  • the investigation of the structure and function of matter far from equilibrium,
  • the investigation of matter and materials in strong electromagnetic fields.

This research is closely connected to the user-operation of a wide range of research infrastructures encompassing photon, neutron and ion sources, high-magnetic field facilities and high power lasers. These large-scale facilities provide unique research opportunities for national and international research groups as well as for cooperations between Helmholtz Research Fields. Within this framework the LK II infrastructures ANKA, BER II, BESSY II, ELBE, FLASH, GEMS, HLD, IBC, JCNS and PETRA III as well as the contributions to international facilities such as the European XFEL and in the future FAIR and ESS (planned) will be the essential basis of the research conducted in this programme. Therefore, they are presented as an integral part of the programme proposal. The programme is organised as an in-house research topic and four topics, which focus on operation and construction of all aforementioned research infrastructures grouped by the probe they are providing (photons, neutrons, ions, high electromagnetic fields). These five topics are presented in the following.



In-house research on structure, dynamics and function of matter at large-scale facilities [DESY, FZJ, GSI, HZB, HZDR, HZG, KIT]

This topic comprises the in-house research of all contributing centres at their large-scale facilities. Excellent in-house research is essential for maintaining the methodical competence needed for designing, building and operating world-leading experiments according to the needs of the users. Based on intense cooperation between the Helmholtz centres these activities are focused on the following research themes:

  • Extreme states of matter: From cold ions to hot plasmas,
  • Quantum condensed matter: Magnetism, superconductivity, and beyond,
  • Materials and processes for energy and transport technologies,
  • Nanoscience and materials for information technologies, and
  • Soft matter, health and life sciences.

This research is conducted in close collaboration with other Helmholtz Research Fields, most prominently with KEY TECHNOLOGIES, ENERGY and HEALTH. The Helmholtz Institute Jena is integrated in "Extreme states of matter: From cold ions to hot plasmas". A strengthening of the in-house research is also achieved by implementing new cross-programme research activities, which often build on the POF II Helmholtz portfolio process.


The following four sections describe the main goals of the Large-scale Facilities operated by the Helmholtz centres as user facilities contributing to the programme.



Facility Topic: Research on matter with brilliant light sources [DESY, HZB, HZG, KIT]

The research at brilliant synchrotron sources and free-electron lasers ranges from basic science to applied science and engineering. The tune-ability of synchrotron radiation allows for element specific investigations and photons of a defined polarisation state are powerful tools for the investigation of correlated electron systems. Photon sources with ultra-short pulses and high coherence allow new insights into static and dynamic effects on a wide range of length and time scales, into the atomic structure of partially ordered matter, and into materials properties relevant to nanoscience and technology. With the photon sources ANKA, BESSY II, PETRA III, FLASH and the contribution to the European XFEL Helmholtz provides first-class research infrastructures in Germany covering the complete spectral range, which attracts users from all over the world. Future activities will focus on

  • the contribution to construction, commissioning and user operation of XFEL,
  • the operation and extension of PETRA III (phase II and phase III Beamlines) and of FLASH (seeding, cw-operation, improved laser undulators),
  • the continuous upgrade of BESSY II and its instruments and the development of BESSY II into a variable pulse length storage ring BESSYVSR, and
  • a full-energy-injector upgrade of ANKA to allow top-up operation.
Facility Topic: Neutrons for research on condensed matter [FZJ, HZB, HZG]

Due to the large accessible space-time window, neutrons provide a microscopic insight into highly complex phenomena and thus enable the understanding of the resulting functionalities. With the next-generation megawatt spallation sources a neutron peak flux will be achieved, which strongly surpasses existing sources and will therefore significantly broaden the application of neutron methods.


Germany has one of the most productive neutron user communities and operates with the BER II and the FRM II two of the most important neutron facilities worldwide. With the operation of the neutron sources BER II and FRM II and the contribution to the first American megawatt spallation source SNS the Helmholtz Association is one of the internationally leading players in neutron science worldwide and provides unique experimental opportunities to German and international users. BER II will stay in operation until 2020. The main goals are:

  • extension of the cooperation with the TUM concerning the FRM II (JCNS and GEMS),
  • operation of a selected instrument suite at BER II at the highest possible standards until 2020.

The design and construction of experiments at the future European spallation source ESS in Lund, Sweden, is scheduled for the same time frame as POF III. The operation of ESS will presumably start in POF IV. In line with their strategies and the available resources the Helmholtz centres FZJ and HZG will contribute to ESS instruments.



Facility Topic: Physics and materials science with ion beams [GSI, HZDR]

The ion facilities of GSI and HZDR are complementary and provide outstanding experimental capabilities for atom physics, plasma physics and material science. The broad spectrum includes precision experiments on fundamental principles of physics in extreme electromagnetic fields, research on matter under extreme pressures, densities and temperatures, as well as applied research in microelectronics, information technology, and nanoscience.


The main goals are:

  • construction of APPA experiments at FAIR,
  • concentration of the user service on selected new beam lines (HITRAP, M-Branch) and the high power laser PHELIX (GSI),
  • operation of the Ion Beam Centre (HZDR) for ion beams for controlled modification and structuring of materials on the nano and sub-nano scale,
  • development of high-resolution, standard-free chemical analysis for resource technology (HZDR).


Facility Topic: Research at highest electromagnetic fields [GSI, HZDR]

Due to new technological developments in recent years electromagnetic fields of up to now inaccessible magnitude have become experimentally feasible. In extreme magnetic fields new states of matter are explored. In addition compact high-power laser systems open up additional fields of research. Apart from answering basic questions on matter in extreme fields, the ultrashort pulses allow the investigation of the fastest processes on the atomic scale. The main goals are:

  • operation and further development of the High magnetic field Lab Dresden (HLD) and its European integration,
  • operation and development of ELBE for the coupling of ultra-intense lasers with accelerators and beam-driven strong field sources (FELBE, THz, DRACO, PENELOPE),
  • operation of PHELIX for the investigation of hot dense matter,
  • development of the Helmholtz beamline at XFEL (and planning for FAIR),
  • establishment of new laser-based sources for X-ray and particle beams.