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Welcome to the Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (MPIK, Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics) in Heidelberg, one of 83 institutes and research establishments of the  Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (Max Planck Society). The MPIK does experimental and theoretical basic research in the fields of Astroparticle Physics (crossroads of particle physics and astrophysics) and Quantum Dynamics (many-body dynamics of atoms and molecules).


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18.12.2014: Choreography of an electron pair

The motion of the two electrons in the helium atom can be imaged and controlled with attosecond-timed laser flashes

Physicists are continuously advancing the control they can exert over matter. A German-Spanish team working with researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg has now become the first to image the motion of the two electrons in a helium atom and even to control this electronic partner dance. The scientists are succeeding in this task with the aid of different laser pulses which they timed very accurately with respect to each other. They employed a combination of visible flashes of light and extreme-ultraviolet pulses which lasted only a few hundred attoseconds. One attosecond corresponds to a billionth of a billionth of a second. Physicists aim to specifically influence the motion of electron pairs because they want to revolutionise chemistry: If lasers can steer the paired bonding electrons in molecules, they could possibly produce substances which cannot be produced using conventional chemical means.


Images of research at MPIK

  • Profile of the first beam of argon ions in the not yet cooled CSR on March 17, 2014
  • View onto the CSR in November 2013
  • An ion with only one electron stored in a cylindrical Penning trap
  • 7 T superconducting magnet for PENTATRAP
  • A liquid-nitrogen-cooled GaAs photocathode producing cold electron beams
  • Momentum distribution of the electrons emitted in double ionization of argon
  • A view inside a femtosecond laser
  • Crystal of laser-cooled ions in a cryogenic Paul trap
  • A reaction microscope
  • Wave function for two electrons in doubly excited helium
  • Principle of the generation of an X-ray frequency comb by means of a laser-controlled gas
  • A matterless double slit consisting of two ultra-intense focused laser beams
  • Acceleration of ions (blue) by a radially polarized ultra-intensive laser beam (red)
  • Scheme of the QED contributions to the magnetic moment of a bound electron
  • Tunnel ionization of a highly charged ion at relativistic laser intensities
  • Prospected arrangement of telescopes in the CTA arrays
  • View of the full H.E.S.S. array with the four 12 m telescopes and the new 28 m H.E.S.S. II telescope
  • Image of a particle cascade viewed simultaneously by all five H.E.S.S. telescopes
  • A proton-lead collision observed by the LHCb detector
  • Predictions of the turbulent magnetic field excited ahead of a shock front
  • Integration of the acrylic vessels in the Double Chooz detector
  • Construction principle of the Nucifer detector
  • Elementary particles of the Standard Model and their hypothetical supersymmetric and seesaw partners
  • View into the GERDA cryostat with veto system partially immersed into the liquid argon
  • Photomultipliers for XENON1T in a support structure for cooling tests
  • Annihilation tracks of antiprotons in an emulsion detector
  • CAD drawing of the laser photodetachment line (ASTROLAB project)
  • Geometrical realization of solar neutrino mixing through the golden ratio


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