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Max Planck Society and HFML-FELIX Laboratory collaborate to advance free-electron laser research and technology

Date of news: 17 June 2021

The HFML-FELIX Laboratory at Radboud University and Fritz-Haber Institute (FHI) of the Max Planck Gesellschaft in Berlin join forces in the newly established “Max Planck-Radboud University Centre for Infrared Free-Electron Laser Spectroscopy”. The collaboration between the two facilities will enable active exchange of knowledge and personnel and push the application and development of free-electron lasers forward.


Both laboratories of the newly established Max-Planck Centre (MPC) operate an infrared free-electron laser (FEL), of which there are only a few in the world. FELs provide intense laser radiation tunable across a major fraction of the infrared and terahertz frequency range. No other laser in the world spans a wavelength range in the infrared as wide as these FELs, which makes these devices especially useful for spectroscopic applications scrutinizing the structure of molecules and materials at the quantum-mechanical level.

The partners in this new MPC aim to push the technology and applications of infrared FELs forward, focusing in particular on advanced spectroscopic methods that go beyond the limits of conventional infrared spectrometers. Areas of application range across the natural sciences, including physical and analytical chemistry, condensed matter and cluster physics, ion spectroscopy and mass spectrometry, and bio- and astrochemistry. Examples include obtaining spectroscopic data for potential interstellar molecules, mapping chemical reactions by characterization of intermediates and identifying low-abundance components in blood that can serve as biomarkers for diseases.

The new MPC will support approximately 20 PhD students and postdocs at the partners’ laboratories. It will form the platform for an active exchange of knowledge and personnel and will be a launch pad for new ideas in applied and basic science using infrared FELs. The MPC will organize conferences, workshops and summer schools on the topic of FEL-based spectroscopy that are open to members of the center as well as to the wider scientific community.

Max Planck Centres
In a Max-Planck Centre (MPC), one or more German Max-Planck Institutes collaborate with a research institute abroad (i.e. outside of Germany). Currently, there are 23 MPCs which constitute one of the major instruments for internationalisation within the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG). MPCs are founded for five years with a possible extension for another five years.

Further information can be found on the website of the MPC https://nijmegen-center-ir-fel-research.mpg.de , as well as in the press release by the Max Planck Society https://www.mpg.de/17048779/max-planck-radboud-university-center .