The Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for Materials and Energy is a research centre and part of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. The institute carries out research into the structure and dynamics of novel materials and also investigates solar cell technology.
Several large scale facilities are available, the most important of which are the 10 MW BER-II research reactor at the Lise Meitner campus in Wannsee and the 3rd generation BESSY synchrotron in Adlershof. The institute also specialises in research at high magnetic fields and low temperatures and is a world leader in providing sample environment for neutron scattering and physical property measurements.
Both the reactor and synchrotron operate as user facilities. Due to the high competition for experiments, beam time is awarded after peer review of two page proposals which state the scientific case for each measurement. User groups are expected to run experiments on a 24-hour basis to maximise the use of the facility. Onsite guesthouses exist at both campuses.
The Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin was created on 1 January 2009 by fusion of Hahn-Meitner-Instituts Berlin and Berliner Elektronenspeicherring-Gesellschaft für Synchrotronstrahlung.
The Hahn-Meitner-Instituts Berlin (HMI), named after Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, was founded 14 March 1959 in Berlin-Wannsee to operate the research reactor BER-I that had gone into operation with 50 kW on 24 July 1958. Research originally focussed on radiochemistry. In 1971, the federal government took over a 90% share in the HMI.
The Berliner Elektronenspeicherring-Gesellschaft für Synchrotronstrahlung (BESSY) was founded in 1979. The first synchrotron BESSY I in Berlin-Wilmersdorf went into operation in 1982.