German research labs to merge

22 Aug 2007 | News
Two research facilities in Berlin are to merge, bringing together two complementary radiation sources and providing scientists with better research tools.

Copper coil lining a high-energy magnet. Picture courtesy Hahn-Meitner Institute.

Two research facilities in Berlin, the Hahn–Meitner Institute (HMI) and the Berliner Elektronenspeicherring-Gesellschaft (BESSY), are to merge, bringing together two complementary radiation sources and providing scientists with better research tools.

The merger, announced by the Federal Minister for Education and Research, Annette Schavan, and Berlin’s Senator for Science, Jürgen Zöllner, requires the current curator of BESSY, the Leibniz Association, to hand the facility over to its counterpart, the Helmholtz Association, of which HMI is a part.

The presidents of both organisations welcome the merger saying it will give scientists better research conditions.

The large radiation facility at BESSY delivers ultra-bright photon beams across the complete long-wave terahertz spectrum, right through to hard X-rays, for studying surface properties and structure of materials.

Meanwhile the neutron beams produced by the research reactor at the Hahn–Meitner can image deep into materials, meaning the two radiation sources are highly complementary.

“It’s a real win–win situation. This is the particularly the case for materials science, but the new Helmholtz Centre will also benefit photovoltaic research [facilities for] Berlin’s scientific community and have an impact on the international stage. The research projects fit very well into the profile of the Helmholtz Association, and the combined use of neutron and photon radiation technology under a single roof makes the organisation preeminent worldwide,” said Jürgen Mlynek, President of the Helmholtz Association.

“BESSY is a national research facility where international teams of scientists work. This made us very proud to have BESSY in our ranks. But considering BESSY’s importance as a large research facility, it makes sense to hand it over to the Helmholtz Association,” said Ernst Theodor Rietschel, President of the Leibniz Association. “It is important to us to provide scientists with all the help we can give them and allow them to perform their research under optimum conditions.”

Rietschel added, “When an institution leaves the Leibniz Association it makes it easier for prospective members to gain access – and the list of interested organisations is long. Just recently, the Bund-Länder-Commission approved the applications of four new research institutes to join the Leibniz Association.”

The Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organisation with 25,700 employees in 15 research centres and an annual budget of about €2.3 billion. The Leibniz Association comprises 83 non-university research institutes and research-related service organisations. The institutes cooperate closely with universities, industry and other partners, both at home and abroad. Member institutes receive funding from both the federal and state governments. The Leibniz institutes employ a total of 13,777 people and have a total budget of €1.1 billion.

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