John B. Fenn Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry for Gert von Helden

Wednesday, 2nd May 2018Miscellaneous
Gert von Helden receives, together with Martin Jarrold and David Clemmer (both Indiana University, USA), the 2018 “John B. Fenn Award for a Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry” by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS). The Award recognizes a focused or singular achievement in fundamental or applied mass spectrometry and is given for pioneering contributions to the development of ion mobility spectrometry (IMS).


A comprehensive volume on chemical warfare entitled “One Hundred Years of Chemical Warfare: Research, Deployment, Consequences” has been published under the auspices of the Max Planck Society

Wednesday, 6th December 2017Publication highlights, Miscellaneous

ProductFlyer-9783319516639On April 22, 1915, the German military released 150 tons of chlorine gas at Ypres, Belgium. Carried by a long-awaited wind, the chlorine cloud passed within a few minutes through the British and French trenches, leaving behind at least 1,000 dead and 4,000 injured. This chemical attack, which amounted to the first use of a weapon of mass destruction, marks a turning point in world history. The preparation as well as the execution of the gas attack was orchestrated by Fritz Haber, the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry in Berlin-Dahlem. During World War I, Haber transformed his research institute into a center for the development of chemical weapons (and of the means of protection against them).

Bretislav Friedrich and Martin Wolf (Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, the successor institution of Haber’s institute) together with Dieter Hoffmann, Jürgen Renn, and Florian Schmaltz (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science) organized an international symposium to commemorate the centenary of the infamous chemical attack. The symposium examined crucial facets of chemical warfare from the first research on and deployment of chemical weapons in WWI to the development and use of chemical warfare during the century hence. The focus was on scientific, ethical, legal, and political issues of chemical weapons research and deployment — including the issue of dual use — as well as the ongoing effort to control the possession of chemical weapons and to ultimately achieve their elimination.

The volume consists of papers presented at the symposium and supplemented by additional articles that together cover key aspects of chemical warfare from 22 April 1915 until the summer of 2015.

The book was presented at a symposium on November 30, 2017 to the delegates of the 22nd Conference of State Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. Introduced by Paul Walker (Green Cross) and presented and moderated by Bretislav Friedrich (FHI), the symposium entitled “One Hundred Years since Ypres and Counting: Glimpses of the Past and the Present” explained the involvement of the Max Planck Society and provided a sampling of the book’s chapters by Edward Spiers (University of Leeds), Ulf Schmidt (University of Kent), Karin Mlodoch (Haukari), and Ralf Trapp (Chessenaz). Among the attendees were four survivors of the 1988 Halabja chemical attack.

eBook available at

This year’s ENI Award goes to Professor Robert Schlögl

Tuesday, 10th October 2017Preise und Auszeichnungen

Professor Schlögl received this year’s ENI Award, also known as “Nobel Prize for Energy”, in the Energy Transition category. We congratulate him on this prestigious distinction. Read more here:

The award and the awardees 2017:

Robert Schlögl:

ENI Press Release:

ENI_Robert Schloegl

Source: ENI

(Deutsch) Azubipreis für Robert Hippmann Pena

Tuesday, 5th September 2017Miscellaneous

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Gert von Helden appointed as professor at Radboud University Nijmegen

Wednesday, 28th June 2017Preise und Auszeichnungen

The Radboud University has launched a press release concerning the appointment of Gert von Helden as professor of IR spectroscopy of biomacromolecules. Read the full press release.

(Deutsch) Professor Robert Schlögl erhält Ehrentitel der TU München

Thursday, 13th April 2017Preise und Auszeichnungen

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

(Deutsch) Maschinelles Lernen erobert die klassischen Naturwissenschaften

Wednesday, 25th January 2017Publication highlights

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Gerard Meijer decorated as a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion

Monday, 16th January 2017Preise und Auszeichnungen

GM_Radoboud_Farewell2For his exceptional achievements as President of the Executive Board of Radboud University, Gerard Meijer was knighted on the occasion of his farewell ceremony.

The university states in a press release:

“Under the presidency of Gerard Meijer, Radboud University has celebrated many successes. Researchers at the University received no less than five Spinoza Prizes—the highest scientific distinction in the Netherlands. Three Gravitation Programmes with Nijmegen consortium leadership were awarded. With the Radboud Excellence Initiative, an idea of Gerard Meijer, international scientific talent from all over the world was attracted to Nijmegen.

Throughout his tenure, the University was annually named the Best Comprehensive University in the Netherlands, most recently receiving the honour for the sixth consecutive year. The campus was made even more beautiful with the new Faculty of Law building and the purchase of the Berchmanianum. He achieved success for the joint Dutch Universities in his dealings with publishers in the field of open access, which enabled free access to scientific articles for everyone.”

Read the full press release here.




Free-electron laser allows scientists to observe a molecular ball bearing

Tuesday, 3rd January 2017Miscellaneous
Graduate students Matias Fagiani (left) and Sreekanta Debnath (right) in front of the undulator of the free-electron laser at the Fritz Haber Institute.

Graduate students Matias Fagiani (left) and Sreekanta Debnath (right) in front of the undulator of the free-electron laser at the Fritz Haber Institute.

The free-electron laser (FEL) at the Fritz Haber Institute (FHI) generates intense pulses of infrared radiation of widely tunable wavelength. Unlike conventional lasers, where the radiation is produced in a gas, liquid, or solid, in an FEL it is generated by an electron beam propagating freely through a vacuum tube. In a device called undulator (Fig. 1),strong magnetic fields of alternating polarity force the electrons on a wiggling (undulating) motion, thereby causing the emission of radiation. The radiation wavelength can be tuned simply by varying the electron energy or the magnetic field strength. Before entering the undulator, however, the electrons need to be accelerated to almost the speed of light, requiring a complex electron accelerator. Since 2013 such an installation has been operational at the Fritz Haber Institute.

In collaboration with scientists from the Wilhelm Ostwald Institute for Physical und Theoretical Chemistry (Leipzig University) and from the Institute for Optics und Atomic Physics (Technical University Berlin) the FEL radiation has been applied to investigate a very special molecular system, the boron cluster B13+. It was known previously that 13 boron atoms can form a highly stable compound, referred to as a magic cluster. It is a planar system composed of two concentric rings; an inner B3-ring and an outer B10-ring (see Fig. 2). The key feature is that the system is very stable but not rigid. Previously, Thomas Heine (Theoretical Chemistry, Leipzig) and his coworkers predicted that it is possible for the rings to rotate like a ball bearing with no detrimental effect on the stability of the system. Pairs of electrons serve as the bearing’s balls, enabling the inner and outer rings to counter rotate effectively free of friction.titelbild_en_png

The group of Knut Asmis (Physical Chemistry, Leipzig), jointly with André Fielicke (TU Berlin), succeeded to prepare a single-isotope form of this very special boron system. And application of the FHI FEL radiation provided evidence for its concentric ring structure and also for the predicted rotational motion. The intense and tunable IR radiation from the FEL made it possible to measure the vibrational spectrum of B13+, revealing a fingerprint of the possible motions within the cluster. The spectrum exhibits clear evidence for the quasi rotation of the two rings.

Wieland Schöllkopf, who is heading the FHI FEL facility, points out that these results could not have been achieved with a conventional laser source. Hence, it represents another impressive example of possible applications of FEL radiation. Furthermore, demonstrating a molecular ball bearing consisting of just 13 atoms presents another example from the young and exciting research field of “Molecular Machines”, the development of which was just awarded by the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


Structure and Fluxionality of B13+ Probed by Infrared Photodissociation Spectroscopy
M.R. Fagiani, X. Song, P. Petkov, S. Debnath, S. Gewinner, W. Schöllkopf, T. Heine, A. Fielicke, K.R. Asmis
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 56, 501–504, (2017)