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To answer questions like these, the great challenges of our time, we combine excellent research and innovative technology with a strong community.

We are Helmholtz.

Together, we create progress through research. And help to master the great challenges of our time.


Architects of the energy transition.

In order to master the energy transition, we must completely rethink our energy system. What was no problem with conventionally generated energy is no longer possible with climate-neutral technologies: you can't turn the sun and wind on and off whenever you want.

The key lies in more efficient hydrogen technologies, the further development of solar cells, and the digitization of our energy system with the help of AI.

At Helmholtz Energy, we create the conditions for a climate-neutral energy supply and a future worth living with research from basic principles to application.
Bernd Rech
Coordinator Research Field Energy

Hydrogen - decoding the complexity of nature.

Olga Kasian

Head of the junior research group Dynamic Electrocatalytic Interfaces at HZB

  • Isn't the production of hydrogen actually quite simple?

    Olga Kasian: "No not at all, this process is very complex. The atoms have to overcome a lot of intermediate steps and many energy barriers."

  • How do you approach this challenge?

    Olga Kasian: "To do this we have built a bridge between two specialized institutes. The Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin offers an excellent infrastructure with large-scale research equipment such as the synchrotron - a special particle accelerator. In addition, at the Helmholtz Institute in Erlangen, we have scientists with excellent expertise in hydrogen production and storage.

  • What role does hydrogen play in the energy transition?

    Olga Kasian: "Hydrogen plays a central role in the energy transition. You can produce it using renewable energies such as wind and solar. It is extremely versatile and can be converted back into electrical energy in fuel cells; it is converted into kinetic energy in engines and into thermal energy in boilers. The key will be low-cost production of this the lightest of all elements."

The Energy Lab 2.0 - research for the energy transition.

The world's largest artificial sun.

In Jülich, Germany, the DLR Institute of Future Fuels operates Synlight, the world's largest research facility for generating artificial sunlight.

The solar simulator achieves 10,000 times the intensity of natural solar radiation on Earth and is primarily used to develop solar fuels, such as hydrogen.

Earth and Environment

Preserving the basis of life.

We study our planet in order to preserve it and its natural environments. From land surfaces to the oceans, to the most remote polar regions, our scientists around the world are working together on projects that help us understand the complex interrelationships of processes on our planet.

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and landslides endanger billions of people worldwide. Only once we know more about the physical processes underlying these events can the effects be minimised.

To ensure these research results can become the basis for political action, Helmholtz experts participate in decision-making processes as part of, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

We provide politicians with important scientific facts on which they can base decisions.
Katja Matthes
Climate scientist and Coordinator of the Earth & Environment research field

The research aircraft HALO

  • Polarstern, a ship like no other.

  • The German research vessel Polarstern has been sailing through the polar regions of our planet in the service of science for more than 40 years.

  • As a versatile icebreaker research vessel, she is an important tool for international polar research.

  • The ship can move through homogeneous, smooth ice with a thickness of 1.2 meters at a speed of about 4 knots (nautical miles per hour).

  • During the MOSAiC expedition, the largest Arctic expedition ever, more than 300 scientists from 20 nations explored the Arctic over the course of the year.

  • For the expedition, Polarstern let herself be frozen in the ice and drifted through the North Polar Ocean for one year. This enabled researchers to gain insights that no one had ever been able to acquire before.

  • To ensure that the AWI and the international scientific community can continue to conduct polar and marine research at the highest level in the world's most extreme environments in the coming decades, the construction of the Polarstern II is planned. The new polar research and supply vessel will become an ambassador for sustainability in shipping thanks to state-of-the-art equipment and climate-friendly technology. Commissioning is planned for 2027.


A world without disease.

What do we do about diseases that affect millions of people every year? How can pandemics be avoided or contained in the future? What are the molecular causes of diseases? And how can tools such as artificial intelligence and data science help us to understand them right down to the level of individual cells or even to prevent outbreaks?

We are addressing questions like these in the Research Field Health, at one of the world's most important research sites for biomedicine.

With the latest key technologies and in close collaboration with university medicine, we are accelerating the translation of our cutting-edge research into sustainable solutions for a healthier future.
Matthias Tschöp
Vice president for the Research Area Health

From single cell biology to a holistic approach.

One Health

"We are studying the details of pathogen transmission: under what circumstances do they jump from animals to humans, or from humans to animals? And how can we use this knowledge to improve the protection of humans, animals, and the environment?

Our team travels all over the world -  helping to protect the health of all organisms.”

Biologist and veterinarian Fabian Leendertz, founding director of the Helmholtz Institute for One Health (HIOH).

AI in medicine

In order to understand and treat diseases even better, we are sharpening our view of the inside of our organism: How do cells there communicate with each other? And what goes wrong in their cooperation when we fall ill?

Mathematician, physicist and bioinformatician Fabian Theis is unlocking these secrets with the help of artificial intelligence: His new algorithms no longer process entire collections of cells and provide their average values. Instead, the data pioneer analyzes individual cells - even millions of them in parallel. Together with other researchers, Theis is creating an atlas of all cell types in the body.

Data science in medicine


Data technologies that are changing the world.

We are currently focussed on the major challenge of Germany's sustainable and responsible digital transformation in the fields of science, business, and society.

We research biological and technical systems at all levels. For example, we are studying the human brain as nature's best model for computing power and efficiency. When developing new data storage concepts we want to mimic the intelligent way biological cells work and organize themselves in the brain. 

Image of a rotating brain

We are also developing metallic biomaterials, such as biodegradable bone screws made of magnesium, making surgery to remove them unnecessary.

The "Exascale" supercomputer at Forschungszentrum Jülich is set to become the first computer in Europe to break the barrier of 1 trillion computing operations per second - a 1 with 18 zeros. It will help solve significant and pressing scientific questions, such as climate change, coping with pandemics, and sustainable energy production. And it will do so across all disciplines.

All about the quantum computer

It is hard to compare a quantum computer with a high-performance computer. It's like comparing a Ferrari to a child's bicycle.
Kristel Michielsen
simulates the functioning of quantum computers at the Forschungszentrum Jülich - with success: Over the past ten years she has been able to set a number of world records.

Aeronautics, Space and Transport

In the SPACE program, we not only explore the formation of planets, the solar system, and the universe, but we are also looking for Earth-like planets and black holes to learn more about our origins. In addition, we provide critical infrastructures for life on Earth, such as for communication, navigation, and for monitoring our Earth and climate.

The TRANSPORT program focuses on Future Mobility: Connected Driving, connected mobility, autonomous driving. Our approaches and innovative solutions are intended to benefit the economy, society, and the environment in equal measure.

Animation of a self driving car
We develop solutions for sustainable space travel and mobility and are implementing our vision of climate-neutral air transport.
Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla
Vice president for the research field aeronautics, space and transport.

Good ideas can fly: The DLR research fleet.


Searching for the secrets of matter.

New high-tech materials, innovative medicines or even the structure of the cosmos: knowledge about matter in its various manifestations allows numerous innovations and leads to new insights about the natural world.

We get to the very heart of the secrets of matter, with the help of custom-made tools, from particle accelerators and electron microscopes to giant telescopes. These unique facilities are open not only to Helmholtz Centers, but also to universities, institutions, and industry. And so, together, we are laying the basis for solving major societal issues.

The findings of basic research in the field of matter are an important fuel for the future development of our society and for the innovations of tomorrow.
Helmut Dosch
Coordinator of the Research Field Matter

The universe in the lab

  • High-class large-scale equipment - for the smallest particles.

  • The European XFEL, built into an underground concrete tunnel, is the most powerful X-ray laser in the world. The 3.4-kilometer-long particle accelerator generates extremely bright and ultrashort X-ray laser flashes that researchers from all over the world can use. The X-ray laser flashes make it possible to see even the finest, atomic details of viruses, to film chemical reactions virtually in real time and to study processes such as those inside planets.

  • The synchrotron radiation sources PETRA III in Hamburg and BESSY II in Berlin provide high-intensity X-ray light that can be used to analyze the structure of nanomaterials and biomolecules down to the atom.

  • The particle accelerator BESSY II in Berlin-Adlershof is used by researchers from all over the world.

  • The Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research FAIR will be one of the largest and most complex accelerator facilities in the world. At its heart is a ring accelerator with a circumference of 1100 meters. In outstanding experiments, it will gain fundamentally new insights into the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe.

  • The Large Hadron Collider LHC is the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator with a 27-kilometer ring of superconducting magnets. Physicists use it to study the building blocks of the world and their interactions, revolutionizing our previous knowledge of the structure inside atoms all the way to the vast expanse of the universe.

We know only about 5% of our universe as visible matter. There is five times as much of dark matter! We are working with many different methods to get on the track of this mystery.
Beate Heinemann
DESY Director of Particle Physics

Inspired by challenges

How we address the major challenges of our time.

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Our Reserach

From fundamental discoveries to practical applications. In six research areas, 18 centers, long-term research programs and with facilities that are unique in the world, we seek answers to the big questions of our time.

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Our 18 Research Centers

From A for astrophysics to X for X-ray imaging: The scientists at our 18 Helmholtz Centers work on numerous highly complex topics. Together, we want to contribute to solving major and urgent questions facing society.

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