Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society

Agricultural yields have increased dramatically since the early 20th century, when the industrial production of nitrogen fertilizer started. It was the chemist Fritz Haber who explored the basic reaction of atmospheric nitrogen with hydrogen. Scientists working today at the Institute which bears his name still pursue similar purposes. They look at chemistry from a physical perspective. Their fields of research are the main characteristics of atoms, molecules and electrons, and their findings explain the behaviour of these particles in chemical reactions. They also want to understand how surface structure – of a catalyst, for example – influences chemical reactions. This information is essential for the chemical industry where more efficient catalysts are welcome.


Faradayweg 4 - 6
14195 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 8413-30
Fax: +49 30 8413-3155

PhD opportunities

This institute has several International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS):

IMPRS for Sustainable Metallurgy - from Fundamentals to Engineering Materials
IMPRS for Elementary Processes in Physical Chemistry

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

At the right, you can a hand holding a round glass flask. The flask contains a yellowish liquid and a brownish coarse-grained powder that has settled at the bottom.

The Max Planck-Cardiff Centre Funcat lays the foundations for the systematic development of chemical reaction accelerators

Beatriz Roldán, director at the Fritz Haber Institute, with King Felipe VI of Spain in the institute's laboratory. 

Centre: King Felipe VI of Spain. From left to right: Ane Etxebarria (researcher in the chemical laboratory of the Department of Interfacial Science at FHI), José Manuel Albares Bueno (Spanish Foreign Minister) and Beatriz Roldán (Institute Director).

King Felipe the VI of Spain visited the Fritz Haber Institute


With the live talk between Nobel Laureate Benjamin List and Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, the 73rd Max Planck Society Meeting in Berlin draws to a close


Insights into the oxidation of hydrocarbons at vanadium pentoxide pave the way for a new catalyst design


The transfer of angular momentum in 4f antiferromagnets depends on the strength of RKKY coupling

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In future, the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide could be used to create important chemicals and fuels. If this vision becomes reality, it would be a major step towards achieving a sustainable circular economy. The Interface Science Department of Beatriz Roldán Cuenya at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin is working toward this very goal.

Cryo-electron microscopy facilitates the precise imaging of tiny structures, such as molecules, right down to the atomic level. For their contribution to the development of this technology, British molecular biologist Richard Henderson, German-born American researcher Joachim Frank and Swiss biophysicist Jacques Dubochet were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017. At the Max Planck Society’s Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin, former Research Group Leader Friedrich Zemlin was also involved when the method carved out a place for itself in biology in the 1980s.

Three problems, one solution: This is the special charm of a research project on which Malte Behrens and Robert Schlögl are working at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin. The chemists want to use carbon dioxide as a chemical raw material, which would keep the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere, replace coal, gas and oil, and store renewable energy.

From plastic bags to hydrogen gas: almost nothing happens in chemistry without catalysts. The reaction accelerators often contain metals that are sometimes rare or need large amounts of energy to do their job. A research team headed by Robert Schlögl, Director at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, wanted to find out whether it was possible to do without catalysts.

Imagine vehicles that are just a few nanometers large and that clean surfaces or build molecular structures like tiny vehicles at a construction site. To bring this idea, or that of molecular electronics, out of the realm of imagination and into the real world, physicists are investigating the physics of the nanoworld.

PostDoc Position (m/f/d) | Interface Science

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin April 18, 2024

Several PhD Positions (m/f/d) | Interfacial Ionics Group

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin February 20, 2024

PhD Student Position (m/f/d) | Operando Electron Microscopy of Electrocatalysts

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin December 22, 2023

How to design efficient interfacial catalysts? 

2022 Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl

Chemistry Material Sciences Particle Physics Plasma Physics Solid State Research

Interfacial catalysts are developed today as ever by empirical methods despite of their strategic relevance for chemical industry and the energy transition. The wealth of knowledge from surface science proves insufficient for a knowledge-based design approach. One critical reason for this gap is chemical dynamics under working conditions leading to profound constitutional changes of the interface and its sub-surface volume. Using results from operando experiments and from theory allows us to redesign catalysts as thin film systems with pre-defined chemical dynamics. 


Controlling material properties through out-of-equilibrium phase transitions

2021 Maklar, Julian; Rettig, Laurenz

Chemistry Material Sciences Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics Solid State Research

Defining element of phase transitions is the form of the free-energy landscape, and ordered phases are defined by its minima. However, many questions regarding the precise form and properties of these energy landscapes and the microscopic dynamical processes across phase transitions remain open. Using ultrashort laser pulses, we have investigated the energy landscapes of various materials to illuminate the mechanisms behind the phase transitions. Aiming at manipulating materials properties on ultrafast time scales, this approach e.g. paves the way towards novel data storage possibilities.


Mitigating Climate Change via Catalysis

2020 Roldán Cuenya, Beatriz; Bergmann, Arno; Kley, Christopher; Grosse, Philipp; Öner; Sebastian

Chemistry Material Sciences Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics Solid State Research

More efficient electrolyzers for the production of green hydrogen directly from water, or energy-storing carbon compounds from CO2 using renewable energy require the development of suitable catalysts. It is essential to gain fundamental insight into the physical and chemical processes under reaction conditions. Recently, we revealed key dynamic processes during electrochemical CO2 reduction. Enhancing our understanding of catalytic reaction mechanisms guides the development of new electrocatalysts to achieve the industrial transformation towards a sustainable and hydrogen-based economy.


Digital catalysis

2019 Trunschke, Annette; Draxl, Claudia; Schlögl, Robert; Scheffler, Matthias

Material Sciences

Large amounts of data are generated in catalysis and in the research of other functional materials. The interdisciplinary use of all these data using methods of computer science and artificial intelligence will lead to new insights in materials science. However, it places high demands on the quality of the data. We develop standardized procedures for the generation of (meta-) data of complex, dynamic systems, thereby contributing to a FAIR use of research data as a basis for the development of new, future-proof technologies.


Chemical reactions in confined spaces

2018 Prieto, Mauricio J.; Schmidt, Thomas; Shaikhutdinov, Shamil; Freund, Hans-Joachim

Chemistry Material Sciences Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics Solid State Research

The study of chemical reactions in confined spaces has recently become more attractive. Silica double layers are particularly suitable for such studies. They are bound to metal substrate surfaces only by dispersion forces. This creates a gap in which chemical reactions can be observed and compared with the same reactions without confinement. Our group at the Fritz Haber Institute has followed the reaction of oxygen atoms adsorbed on Ru(0001) with molecular hydrogen using low-energy electron microscopy. .

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