Max Planck Institutes and Experts

There is no such thing as "the" Max Planck Institute. In fact, the Max Planck Society operates a number of research institutions in Germany as well as abroad. These Max Planck Institutes are independent and autonomous in the selection and conduct of their research pursuits. To this end, they have their own, internally managed budgets, which can be supplemented by third party project funds. The quality of the research carried out at the institutes must meet the Max Planck Society's excellence criteria. To ensure that this is the case, the institutes' research activities undergo regular quality reviews.

The Max Planck Institutes carry out basic research in the life sciences, natural sciences and the social and human sciences. It is thus almost impossible to allocate an individual institute to one single research field: conversely, it can be the case that different Max Planck Institutes carry out research in the same subject.
  • In theory as well as in practice the relationship between experience, experiment and theory has changed over time. The studies concentrate on the period between the 18th and the early decades of the 20th century. Around 1800 we observe the complex interplay of practical knowledge traditions (mechanical arts, crafts) and their impact on the formation of the physical sciences. Around 1900 new experimental techniques werde developed within experimental physics, evoking a fundamental discussion about the potentials and limits of sensory experience in the sciences. more
  • How light changes matter: from a laser to a few photons

    2016 Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter Ruggenthaler, Michael; Hübener, Hannes; Sentef, Michael A.; Appel, Heiko; Rubio, Angel
    The properties of matter, e.g., the conductivity, can be tailored with light. This can be done with a lot of photons that are part of a laser beam, or in certain cases only a few photons are enough. In the theory department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, researchers use both extreme cases to investigate novel states of matter: a laser allows theoretically generating hitherto unobserved states of matter and via a few photons chemical reactions can be altered. more
  • Superconductors carry an electric current without resistance only at low temperatures. Now, for the first time, scientists have turned a ceramic crystal into a superconductor even at room temperature, using an ultrashort mid-infrared flash of light. The superconducting state survived only for a couple of picoseconds (millionth of a microsecond), and the researchers found that this light-induced state is based on certain distortions of the material’s crystal lattice. These findings may aid the quest for higher temperature superconductors and pave the way for novel applications. more
  • Sunrise for six days

    2017 Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research Riethmüller, Tino L.; Barthol, Peter; Solanki, Sami K.
    Lifted by a huge helium-filled balloon, the solar observatory Sunrise has already carried out two sixday long flights along the Arctic Circle. While the first flight has provided new insights into the lower atmosphere of the Sun at low magnetic activity, some selected findings of the second flight, carried out at a significantly higher solar activity level, are presented here. more
  • The origin of magnetic spots on stars like the Sun is not understood. Stellar rotation is a key ingredient in models of stellar magnetism. Five Sun-like stars observed by the Kepler space telescope are found for which both the internal rotation rate (using asteroseismology) and the surface rotation rate (using starspots) could be measured. Together these measurements show that the difference between surface and internal rotation in these stars is small, as in the Sun. The upcoming PLATO space mission will allow to apply this analysis to many thousands of sun-like stars. more
  • While the Sun appears relatively uniform in visible light, it presents its complex magnetic nature and esthetic beauty in X-rays. Of particular interest in terms of physics is the region governed by the intimate interaction between magnetic field and plasma. This magnetic transition, located a few 1000 km above the solar surface, is the prime topic of the space-based solar observatory IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph). Here some results will be reported that present us with a new, more complex view of the atmosphere of the Sun and that pose a variety of new questions. more
  • Since summer 2014 Rosetta explores comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In November 2014 the Philae lander landed on the surface of the comet. The first measurements of the scientific instruments allow conclusions on the formation of small bodies in the early phase of solar system formation, on cometary activity and on the importance of comets for the existence of water on Earth. more
  • The outer hot and dynamic atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, is dominated by the magnetic field. Convective motions near the surface are braiding the magnetic field lines that reach into the corona, and by this induce currents which are then dissipated and heat the plasma. Numerical experiments can capture the underlying processes well enough to reproduce the complex observations of the real Sun. The interplay of modern solar observations and numerical models on supercomputers provides the means to get closer to an understanding of the heating, structure, and dynamics of the solar corona. more
  • The exploration of the conditions that have prevailed in the early Solar System is the goal of NASA’s Dawn mission [1], for which MPS provided two cameras (“Framing Cameras“) [2]. The Dawn mission explored the asteroid 4 Vesta from different orbits for a period of one year, and is now approaching asteroid 1 Ceres. The Vesta mission phase led to a series of discoveries as, for example, the proof of an iron core, the widespread occurrence of dark material on the otherwise bright surface, as well as a variety of distinctive surface structures that point to a turbulent past of Vesta. more
  • Is convection in the solar interior slower than expected?

    2012 Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research Birch, Aaron; Gizon, Laurent; Hanasoge, Shravan; Langfellner, Jan
    Convection is the main mechanism for transporting energy from the base of the solar convection zone to the surface and is thought to be responsible for maintaining the observed global-scale flows of the Sun. Helioseismology, the use of solar oscillations to study the Sun’s interior, has been applied to observations from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager on board the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory to obtain upper limits on the amplitudes of convective flows. These limits are in conflict with theoretical prediction and demand a rethinking of convection theory. more
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