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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).


Latest news

Radiation damage: The dangerous trail of slow electrons

Details about the mechanism by which electron collisions explode molecules provide a better understanding of how radioactivity damages biological cells

Scientists can only offer a partial explanation of how radioactivity damages biological cells. The current research focuses on the effect of so-called secondary particles. When radiation penetrates the body, it knocks out electrons from the biological molecules. These collide with other biomolecules and damage them. The genetic molecule DNA is also affected by this process, which can result in cancer in extreme cases. However, radiation and the associated secondary particles are also used in the targeted destruction of cancer cells. For a long time, researchers ignored slow electrons among these secondary particles because they do not have sufficient energy to ionize a molecule. However, since it became known that the slow electrons can nonetheless cause effective damage to DNA molecules, physicists have been carrying out more intensive research on the emergence of such secondary electrons. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg and their colleagues from the University of Innsbruck have studied a process for the first time in which an initially fast electron strikes a molecule and three secondary electrons arise. The volume of free electrons is tripled as a result. Because many of these electrons move slowly, the particle reactions that have now been observed could play an important role in the emergence of radiation damage [Nature Communications 22.03.2016].

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Images of research at MPIK

  • Profile of the first beam of argon ions in the not yet cooled CSR on March 17, 2014
  • Copper strips distribute the cold to the experimental vacuum chambers of the CSR
  • The atomic mass of a bound electron is balanced by QED contributions in increasing order, playing the role of a precision mass set
  • Electrodes of a Penning trap
  • A liquid-nitrogen-cooled GaAs photocathode producing cold electron beams
  • Momentum distribution of the electrons emitted in double ionization of argon
  • „Chirped mirror“ arrangement for ultrashort Laser pulses
  • 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
  • Controllable delay of x-ray photons with nuclei
  • A laser-induced splitting gradient is used to store the complete frequency spectrum of a broadband pulse in a resonant medium
  • Tunnel ionization of a highly charged ion at relativistic laser intensities
  • Cameras for CTA: CHEC for small telescopes in front of FlashCam for medium-sized telescopes
  • 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
  • The GERDA detector strings with Nylon shielding and optical fibre
  • The upper photomultiplier array for the XENON1T experiment searching for Dark Matter
  • Annihilation tracks of antiprotons in an emulsion detector
  • CAD drawing of the laser photodetachment line (ASTROLAB project)
  • Illustration of the rotational symmetry of an octahedron, used to construct models for fermion mixing


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