Our Research Centers

Scientists in 18 Helmholtz Centers work on a wide range of topics, such as A for astrophysics, B for biology, C for cell research, and so on. Almost 42,000 staff use the most modern scientific infrastructure, including, in particular, large-scale facilities and instrumentation, which are also open to use by members of the international scientific community. Working on behalf of the state, Helmholtz scientists pursue an ambitious goal: To make an essential contribution to solving the grand challenges which society faces.

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB)

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB)

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has two main focuses: Research on materials that are related to energy conversion in the broadest sense and the development of accelerator concepts and instruments for research with light. 

We are working on highly efficient solar cells of the next generations, for example on thin-film technologies and new classes of materials such as perovskites. In doing so, we seek contact with industry at an early stage. We are developing novel catalysts and materials that convert sunlight into chemical energy and thus produce renewable fuels, for example hydrogen. Battery materials with better properties are also being explored at HZB. Another important field of research is quantum materials for tomorrow's energy-efficient information technologies.

Lightsource BESSY II

One of HZB's main focuses is the operation of the synchrotron radiation source BESSY II, which is not only an important tool for researchers at HZB, but is also available to the international scientific community. BESSY II generates highly brilliant synchrotron light, which is guided to the experiments via 40 beamlines. The facility is optimized for soft X-ray light, which is particularly suitable for analyzing chemical processes at surfaces and within thin layers.

3,000 guest scientists from all disciplines

The BESSY II storage ring receives more than 3,000 visits per year from guest researchers from research and industry. They come from a wide range of disciplines, from chemistry, physics, biology, geology to cultural history. For example, they decipher the architecture of proteins, look inside viruses and bacteria, map magnetic patterns in meteorites or analyse band structures of semiconductor materials. Their results help to develop, for example, drugs and processes to split up and recycle the plastic PET. The synchrotron light from BESSY II is indispensable for such experiments - and unique in Germany.


User research is as diverse as the instruments and methods at BESSY II, which are constantly being improved by HZB teams. In order to meet the needs of guest researchers and industry in the long term, HZB's experts are already working on concepts for a successor light source.

Short facts

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) was founded in 2009 by merging the former Hahn-Meitner-Institut (founded 1959) and the BESSY-Gesellschaft (founded 1979). With approximately 1200 employees, HZB is one of the largest non-university research centres in Berlin.


Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB)

HZB Newsroom



    • Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
    • Hahn-Meitner-Platz 1
      14109 Berlin
    • Postal address:
      Postfach 39012814109 Berlin
    • +49 30 8062-0
    • +49 30 8062-42181
    • info(at)helmholtz-berlin.de
    • https://www.helmholtz-berlin.d…
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Helmholtz annual report 2020

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