Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter

Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter

New methods are enabling physicists and biologists at the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter to break new scientific ground. With the help of new radiation sources, especially the x-ray free-electron laser being built at the DESY in Hamburg, the researchers can show the properties and behavior of matter at a spatial resolution of a few nanometers and at time intervals of a few billionths of a billionth of a second. This provides them with completely new insights into the structure and function of biological materials and into the properties of solids and their electronic and structural dynamics. The coherent light of lasers enables the physicists to inspect the collective properties, for example superconductivity, of complex solids, including many types of ceramics.


Luruper Chaussee 149, Geb. 99 (CFEL)
22761 Hamburg
Phone: +49 40 8998-88002
Fax: +49 40 8994-6570

PhD opportunities

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

IMPRS for Ultrafast Imaging and Structural Dynamics

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

The Magnetic Multiscale Modelling Suite supports the development of magnets without rare earth elements

The image shows a tile with pictures of 10 Max Planck researchers who were successful in the 2022 ERC Consolidator Grant award process. They are Annalisa Pillepich, MPI for Astronomy, Philip J.W. Moll, MPI for Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Simone Kuehn, MPI for Education Research, Joshua Wilde, MPI for Demographic Research Meritxell Huch, MPI for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dora Tang, MPI for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Aljaz Godec, MPI for Multidisciplinary Natural Sciences, Stéphane Hacquard, MPI for Plant Breeding Research, Hiroshi Ito, MPI for Brain Research, and Daniel Schramek, MPI for Molecular Genetics.

This result puts Max Planck in second place in a Europe-wide comparison


Quantum tricks on demand

November 20, 2019

Max Planck–New York Center for Nonequilibrium Quantum Phenomena inaugurated in New York City


Researchers from Hamburg, Potsdam and Toronto watch work of an enzyme in unprecedented detail


Indications of light-induced lossless electricity transmission in fullerenes contribute to the search for superconducting materials for practical applications

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To alter properties of materials with light as if with the wave of a magic wand: that is Andrea Cavalleri’s mission. The Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg uses lasers to change the behavior of crystals, fleetingly producing superconductors that conduct electricity without loss at room temperature.

Post-doctoral researcher (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Hamburg June 24, 2024

Engineer for Electron Microscopy and Focused Ion Beam Systems (FIB) (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Hamburg May 31, 2024

Changing direction: Research team discovers switchable electronic chirality in a Kagome superconductor 

2022 Moll, Philip; Putzke, Carsten

Material Sciences Solid State Research

Whether or not crystal structures are mirror symmetric determines how their electrons behave. Researchers at the MPSD, working with an international team, have shown that, surprisingly, the electrons of the Kagome superconductor CsV3Sb5 display a chiral behaviour, despite their achiral crystal structure. An emergent electronic order breaks the mirror symmetry – a newly discovered phenomenon – and this order can be switched by magnetic fields. Such a switchable chirality could play an important role for future technologies.


Designing materials with classical and quantum light

2021 Christian Eckhardt und Michael Sentef

Material Sciences Quantum Physics

In recent years, it has become possible to create short and strong laser pulses with many photons that interact with materials on extremely fast time scales and change the materials’ behavior. By contrast, in the adjacent research field of quantum optics, the quantum fluctuations of light take center stage, with only few virtual photons bubbling in and out of existence in the vacuum. At the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg we are now bridging these two fields and exploring the potential of both classical and quantum light to create designer materials with tailor-made properties that could enable new energy-saving and quantum-technology applications.


The Design Principles of Nature Revealed at the Atomic and Electronic Timescales

2019 Eike C. Schulz, Robert Bücker, Günther H. Kassier, Hong Guan Duan,  R.J. Dwayne Miller

Chemistry Material Sciences Microbiology Quantum Physics Solid State Research

Just how has nature optimized certain biological structures to optimally transduce chemistry into living systems? In the area of barrier-crossing, which takes around 100 femtoseconds, there is a proposal that nature has optimized form and function to exploit quantum effects by environmental engineering to extend coherences - even electronic coherences - on the timescale relevant to electronic motions sensitive to the environment fluctuations. In enzymatic processes lasting microseconds and above, stochastic thermally driven motions need to steer the chemistry to drive biological functions.


Light-induced superconductivity: footballs carry an electrical current without resistance

2017 Först, Michael; Nicoletti, Daniele; Cavalleri, Andrea

Material Sciences Solid State Research

Superconductors at very low temperatures show the remarkable property of being able to conduct electrical current without any resistance. However, the use of these materials in everyday life applications is severely limited by the need for cooling to at least minus 70 degrees Celsius. In carbon-based molecules, irradiation with intense mid-infrared laser light has now enabled to induce a short-lived transient superconducting state at higher temperatures. The knowledge gained might help in the development of materials that become superconducting at significantly higher temperatures.


How light changes matter: from a laser to a few photons

2016 Ruggenthaler, Michael; Hübener, Hannes; Sentef, Michael A.; Appel, Heiko; Rubio, Angel

Chemistry Material Sciences Quantum Physics Solid State Research

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.

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