HZB and Humboldt University agree to set up a catalysis research laboratory

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) have signed a cooperation agreement with the aim of establishing a joint research laboratory for catalysis in the IRIS research building of HU in Adlershof. The IRIS research building offers optimal conditions for the research and development of complex material systems.

Catalysts are the key to many technologies and processes needed to build a climate-neutral economy. A hotspot for catalysis research has been developing in Berlin's research landscape for some time. As part of the Excellence Initiative, new clusters such as UniSysCat have been created in which established research institutes bundle their activities and the chemical industry is involved through the BASCat laboratory. An important field of research is the production of "green" hydrogen: in order to produce hydrogen and synthetic fuels in a climate-neutral way using renewable energies, innovative catalysts are needed. The recently launched CatLab project, which is funded as part of the Hydrogen Strategy, is pursuing completely new approaches based on thin-film technologies that promise real leaps in innovation.

IRIS laboratories equipped for catalysis research
To further promote catalysis research in Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and HZB have now signed another cooperation agreement. Part of the IRIS labo
ratories in Berlin-Adlershof will be additionally equipped for the development and investigation of heterogeneous catalyst systems. IRIS Adlershof stands for Integrative Research Institute for the Sciences. With approximately 4,500 square metres of state-of-the-art laboratory, office and communication space, the IRIS research building offers optimal conditions for the research and development of complex material systems. An open-plan laboratory is planned for the installation of laboratory reactors to determine the catalytic activity and selectivity of the material systems. To study catalysts in action, electron microscopes will be set up in the basement. In addition, in-operando investigation methods such as X-ray diffraction, photoelectron, Raman and UV-vis spectroscopy will be used, which will be completed by the high-end analysis options of the neighbouring synchrotron radiation source BESSY II of the HZB. Close cooperation is also planned in the field of thin-film technology, using additive manufacturing processes and nanostructuring and synthesis methods.

Innovations through interdisciplinary cooperation
In the IRIS research building, experts from different disciplines work closely together for a deep physical-chemical understanding of complex interfaces. This forms an excellent basis for the development of energy materials. The arrangement of the laboratories and offices as well as the spacious communication areas create the best conditions for the different disciplines to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Cooperation agreement is also legally innovative
The cooperation between the HU and the HZB on the catalysis research laboratory is being structured on a public-law basis for the first time due to the recent amendment to the Berlin Higher Education Act on cooperation between scientific institutions. The procedure for recording, evaluating and documenting mutual cooperation contributions is simpler and less bureaucratic. This allows researchers to concentrate on their core task – doing science


Stefan Hecht elected into the National Academy of Science and Engineering

The National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) has elected the chemist Stefan Hecht as one of its new members. With him and the mathematician Jürg Kramer, IRIS-Adlershof is prominently represented in acatech. Hecht is very grateful about the election to the National Academy of Science and Engineering: “For me, it means recognition and motivation at the same time. I am looking forward to develop technological solutions and recommendations for pressing future topics together with well-known colleagues ”, says the chemist. As a new acatech member, he will be particularly active in the field of materials science.

As a national academy funded by the federal and state governments, acatech represents the sciences and engineering at home and abroad and conducts an active, science-based dialogue on future technology-related issues. The focus is on:

       • Scientific recommendations
       • Knowledge transfer and networking between science and business
       • Promotion of young researchers in technical professions
       • International representation of technical sciences.

The members of the academy are elected into the academy based on their outstanding academic achievements and their high reputation. Acatech currently has more than 400 members from engineering, natural sciences, medicine, as well as from the humanities and social sciences.



Interview with the "Magician of the Octonions" in the Adlershof Journal

Nichol Furey has been researching at IRIS Adlershof for half a year and turns to the fundamentals of quantum field theory with an unusual approach. In the current issue of the Adlershof Journal, she explains how she would like to find the 'theory of everything'

to the online article...


Xolography as new volumetric 3D printing method

It looks like science fiction but in fact could be the future of 3D printing: A blue slice of light wanders through a liquid, while light projections emerge through the window of a glass vessel. Resembling the replicator of the Star Trek spaceships, the desired object materializes. What used to take hours soon floats in the liquid in the vessel, is then removed, and cured under UV light.

The underlying process – xolography – was developed by a team led by chemist Stefan Hecht from IRIS Adlershof, physicist Martin Regehly, and the founder Dirk Radzinski in the startup company xolo GmbH in Berlin Adlershof over the past two years. For the first time, they now describe their unique method in the renowned journal Nature.

Their invention is based on Hecht’s specialty: photoswitchable molecules, which only at the intersection (xolography) of light rays of two different colors allow precise curing of the starting material in the entire volume (holos). In combination with a new printing process (xolography) based on a laser-generated light sheet and projected cross-sectional images, the desired objects are generated from virtual 3D models.

In contrast to conventional 3D printing, in which the objects are created layer by layer, the advantages of xolography are the significantly higher build speed that is due to the higher efficiency of combining two linear one-photon processes as opposed to non-linear two-photon stereolithography. The faster build speed does not compromise for resolution and thus smooth surfaces can be created. Moreover, fully assembled multicomponent systems can be fabricated in just one step.

Hecht is amazed “to see how fast this has been moving from an idea to xolo’s first prototype printer, the XUBE. Working in a highly interdisciplinary team including chemists, physicists, materials scientists, and software developers with a clear focus and dedication, we have been able to develop xolography as a powerful new method.” He is excited about the many opportunities ahead: “The beauty is our method’s versatility as we can print hard as well as soft objects. This should have major implications for the future manufacturing of optical, (micro)fluidic, and biomedical devices.”“

Xolography for linear volumetric 3D printing
M. Regehly, Y. Garmshausen, M. Reuter, N.F. König, E. Israel, D.P. Kelly, C.-Y. Chou, K. Koch, B. Asfari, and S. Hecht
Nature 588 (2020) 620, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-3029-7


The Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOP) and IRIS Adlershof start a joint PostDoc program

The Institute of Physics (IOP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the IRIS Adlershof of the Humboldt University in Berlin have now established a joint PostDoc program and launched a first round of applications. The prestigious two-year research fellowships are intended for exceptional early-career scientists, in preparation for an independent career in research at the frontier of condensed matter physics, quantum materials or device physics. Successful candidates will spend one year in Beijing and one in Berlin at the research groups of their choice. The application deadline is February 28, 2021.