Max Planck Institute for Physics

Max Planck Institute for Physics

What gives matter its mass? This is one of the questions being investigated by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich. They study the smallest building blocks of matter and how they interact with each other. The behaviour of these building blocks – the quarks, charged leptons and neutrinos – helps them to understand the origin of the universe and its present form. The Institute researchers conduct experiments at the largest particle physics laboratories around the world. These include CERN in Geneva, KEK in Tsukuba (Japan) and DESY in Hamburg. Moreover, they also perform experiments to investigate cosmic radiation on the Canary Island of La Palma and the neutrino experiment in the Gran Sasso underground laboratory in Italy. Theoreticians not only team up with the experimenters to jointly interpret the results of the experiments, but also to develop new theories in order to better characterise our universe.


Föhringer Ring 6
80805 München
Phone: +49 89 32354-0
Fax: +49 89 3226-704

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS on Elementary Particle Physics

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

A sure hand at the scientific helm

Reimar Lüst, former President of the Max Planck Society and pioneer of European space research, has died

Scientific highlights 2019

Scientific highlights 2019

December 20, 2019

Many publications by Max Planck scientists in 2019 were of great social relevance or met with a great media response. We have selected 15 articles to present you with an overview of some noteworthy research of the year.

In the footsteps of our history

The Berlin district of Dahlem plays a special role in the history of the Max Planck Society. Many institutes, such as the MPI for Physics or Biochemistry, have their roots there. A new app now enables users to explore this history on their own.

Electrons ride plasma wave

First successful test of the particle accelerators of the future

The decay signature of the Higgs boson

ATLAS experiment observes that the elementary particle produces two bottom quarks as theoretically predicted


The detection of the Higgs boson represented a huge success for the particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider. But other expected or unexpected discoveries, which physicists hoped would explain the appearance of the world we live in, have failed to materialize. Now, Hermann Nicolai, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, and Siegfried Bethke, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, are on a quest for new prospects in particle physics.

When, on a clear night, you gaze at twinkling stars, glimmering planets or the cloudy band of the Milky Way, you are actually seeing only half the story – or, to be more precise, a tiny fraction of it. With the telescopes available to us, using all of the possible ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, we can observe only a mere one percent of the universe. The rest remains hidden, spread between dark energy and dark matter.

Gravitational waves are some of the most spectacular predictions of the 1915 general theory of relativity. However, it wasn’t until half a century later that physicist Joseph Weber attempted to track them down. In the early 1970s, Max Planck scientists also began working in this research field, and developed second-generation detectors. The groundwork laid by these pioneers meant the waves in space-time ceased to be just figments of the imagination: in September 2015 they were finally detected.

Science without computers? Unthinkable, nowadays! Yet over half a century ago, that was commonplace. Then, in the early 1950s, mathematician and physicist Heinz Billing entered the scene - and introduced the Max Planck Society to electronic computing. It all started with the "Göttingen 1."

The Particle Hunter

1/2014 Physics & Anstronomy

Some enthusiastically call it the “discovery of the century” when they speak of the discovery of the Higgs boson at Europe’s CERN laboratory in the summer of 2012. As a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, Sandra Kortner is closely tied to this research – all the while managing her role as the mother of two small children.

Engineering Position (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for Physics, Munich September 04, 2020

Cosmic gamma-rays: Fascinating observations with Cherenkov telescopes

2019 Hütten; Moritz; Will, Martin

Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics

Using the ground-based Cherenkov telescopes, the sky can be scanned for high-energy gamma radiation. In January 2019, the two MAGIC telescopes on the Canary island of La Palma targeted a gamma-ray burst and measured the highest-energy radiation from such an object to date. It was thus possible to gain new insights into the processes in gamma-ray bursts. Scientists hope to find many more celestial bodies in the highest energy range. For this purpose, the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) – with over one hundred individual telescopes – is currently being built on La Palma and in Chile.


Without "Ghosts": a new theory of gravity

2018 Schmidt-May, Angnis

Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics

So far gravity is hard to integrate in established theories in particle physics. This is why phyisicists try to find new ways to bring this fundamental force into accordance with other models.


Neutrinos: Tracking down the origin of matter in the universe

2017 Majorovits, Béla

Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics

Are neutrinos responsible for the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe? Are neutrinos identical to their own antiparticles? The GERDA experiment for the search of the neutrinoless double beta decay was built to find answers to these questions.


Axions as dark matter – a new search strategy

2016 Raffelt, Georg (für die MADMAX Arbeitsgruppe)

Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics

The dark matter of the universe probably consists of some sort of new elementary particles, although we have no specific clue as to their identity. The axion is a traditional hypothesis that is lately receiving a lot of renewed attention with many new activities. If these extremely low-mass particles are the dark matter of our galaxy, we should picture them as a kind of classical wave phenomena that can be picked up with a special antenna, producing a microwave signal. A new idea to realize this effect opens up new perspectives in our search for dark matter.


Cosmological inflation and string theory

2015 Blumenhagen, Ralph

Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics

The precise measurement of the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background confirms the model that in the early universe a period of rapid expansion of its todays visible part has taken place. The detection of remnant gravitational waves from this period would be another milestone of experimental cosmology and would have important theoretical consequences. The theoretical department of the Max-Planck-Institut für Physik is working on building theoretical models of inflation that are based on string theory, the candidate for a theory of quantum gravity.

Go to Editor View