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 an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS Functional Interfaces in Physics and Chemistry

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

Leopoldina advocates a sustainable approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic

The Academy recommends a shift towards sustainable forms of economy, more European and international cooperation, and a strengthening of services of general interest and common goods that will make our societies more resilient to future crises

ERC Advanced Grants for six Max Planck researchers

Research Council ERC awards grants of up to 2.5 million euros each

Exploiting Big Data to create innovative materials

Twelve Max Planck Society facilities are bundling their expertise in the data-driven materials sciences

Terahertz radiation: A useful source for food safety

A compact and low-cost emitter generates light across the entire terahertz spectrum

Better adhesion than previously thought in van der Waals force

The quantum mechanical description of the force between uncharged atoms and molecules demonstrated in real structures


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.

1 PhD or Postdoc position - Catalysis studies of single crystalline oxide films

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin May 05, 2020

1 PhD or Postdoc position Effect of Vibrational Excitations

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin May 05, 2020

Postdoctoral Position (m/f/d)

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin April 30, 2020

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. .


A FAIRes data concept of material sciences controlled by big data

2017 Scheffler, Matthias; Draxl, Claudia

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

Data are an important raw material of the 21st century. This applies in particular to materials science. However, the lack of an efficient data exchange infrastructure is a major obstacle to this area's progress. In the field of computer-aided materials science, the NOMAD CoE (Novel Materials Discovery - Center of Excellence) has brought about a cultural change towards comprehensive data sharing and paved the way for big data analyses. This leads to new insights and even the discovery of new materials for technologically important applications.


Energy change 2.0: On the role of chemical research

2016 Schlögl, Robert

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

Considering the reduction of greenhouse gas paramount target of “Energiewende” all sectors of the energy system are to be crosslinked. However, interlinkage will only be possible by converting primary electricity into material energy carriers. We are “storing” this electricity in order to make it available to other applications and so achieve the target of sector integration into sustainable energy supply. This article deals with the integration of mobility. For chemistry that means to develop sustainable alternatives to pure electrical driving.


Structures of peptide aggregates investigated with the new Fritz Haber Institute free electron laser

2015 von Helden, Gert; Schöllkopf, Wieland; Pagel, Kevin


The combination of several separation methods with the Fritz Haber Institute free electron laser has allowed to measure infrared spectra of size selected peptide-ion aggregates in the gas phase. The spectra reveal information on the peptides’ folding states, varying between helical and β-sheet. In the future, this approach of determining folding in peptide and protein aggregates can, potentially, contribute to the better understanding of protein misfolding, aggregation and the hereby caused diseases.


In the focus of ultrashort lasers: the interplay of electronic and crystalline structure

2014 Ernstorfer, Ralph

Material Sciences Particle Physics Quantum Physics Solid State Research

Many material properties and the function of complex devices are governed by the interplay and the interaction of electrons and the atomic structure on the microscopic scale. These fundamental processes are investigated with the help of time-resolved experimental methods. In these experiments, the electrons in a material are excited by means of an ultrashort laser pulse and the response of the electrons and of the atomic structure are observed with different ultrafast techniques, revealing the interaction of electrons and lattice and illuminating effects like the dissipation of energy.

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