Research at FRM II under the umbrella of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ)

Dr. Martin Mühlbauer (left) and Dr. Anatoliy Senyshyn (right) examine the charging and discharging of Li-ion batteries at the instrument STRESS-SPEC (diffractometer for materials science) at the MLZ) (Photo: Andreas Heddergott, TUM)

On 29th April 2005, the Forschungs-Neutronenquelle Heinz Maier-Leibnitz started its user operation. It provides high neutron flux for research, industry and medicine. Research at the FRM II is not only undertaken by the local scientists on site, but for the most part, by scientists, so-called users, from around the world. Scientific use, with up to 1000 user visits per year, is organized within the cooperation between the TUM, Forschungszentrum Jülich and Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht with the collaboration of the Max Planck Society and nine further University groups. This cooperation is known as the “Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum” (MLZ). Various working groups of the cooperation partners of the MLZ operate instruments here enabling research in various fields, such as physics, chemistry, biology, earth sciences, engineering and materials science. Research at the MLZ using the neutrons of the FRM II addresses key social issues dealing with:

Neutrons shed light

In comparison to other methods, e.g. X-ray diffraction, neutrons, due to their physical properties have many advantages which may enhance current investigation possibilities considerably. Neutrons are able to penetrate materials non-destructively and to provide information on composition, structure, internal movements, and magnetic properties. In this way new findings drive the development and improvement of functional materials in engineering and technology; (e.g. special alloys for efficient gas turbines in aircraft, batteries for electric vehicles), and in information technology (e.g. magnetic materials for higher storage capacities in computers), or the development of new methods for safe and more efficient energy storage (e.g. hydrogen storage materials for the automotive industry). In life sciences neutrons contribute significantly to the elucidation of cellular processes. They allow, for example, the determination of the 3-dimensional structure of proteins and thus allow conclusions to be drawn about the underlying catalytic mechanisms. This is, for example, crucial in the discovery and development of target-oriented drugs.

Answers to fundamental questions

Steady progress and new developments in the various scientific fields would not be possible without basic research. Research generated from pure scientific curiosity is essential to obtain answers to fundamental questions such as: "What happened before the Big Bang 14 billion years ago?" Or "How to explain the excess of matter compared to anti-matter in the universe?” Also basic questions about the general properties of matter or interaction processes within matter are of great interest. New discoveries in the field of basic research therefore contribute significantly to the understanding of today's world.

"Neutrons for research, industry and medicine" - many more detailed examples of the different disciplines can be found at: