Foto: Program "From Matter to Materials and Life" ©Copyright: BengsPhysics and Materials Science with Ion Beams

Matter > From Matter to Materials and Life - All Topics

Foto: High Energy Ion Implantation ©Copyright: HZDR/Matthias RietschelOne cannot imagine research and industry without ion beams. They have become indispensable, whether it be for the surface treatment of materials (e.g. exhaust turbochargers, machine tools, medical implants), the creation of functional films in solar cells, or electronic components for micro, opto, and high power electronics (e.g. transistors, semiconductor detectors, light emitting diodes, high power switches). In close cooperation with our Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) and with the help of ion beams, the HZDR scientists are also able to analyze mineral raw materials and to evaluate them for their usability in the exploitation of scarce elements (e.g. rare earths).

In contrast to light rays (electromagnetic waves), ion beams are electrically charged particle beams. An applied voltage can accelerate these particles up to a specific velocity (energy) which then allows them to penetrate solid materials. Depending on the particle mass and energy, thin films are produced and/or the properties of materials changed. In case of very high energies – at an accelerating voltage of more than 1 million volts – and with very light particles, e.g. protons, it is also possible to analyze the depth resolved composition of thin films. The creation of such ion beams requires large accelerator facilities which are made available by the HZDR’s Ion Beam Center to users from around the globe.

The topic "Physics and Materials Research with Ion Beams" is jointly investigated by the HZDR and the GSI Helmholzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung (Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research) in Darmstadt.

Press Releases

Involved HZDR institutes




  • Gruber, E.; Wilhelm, R. A.; Petuya, R. et al.
    Ultrafast electronic response of graphene to a strong and localized electric field
    Nature Communications 7(2016), 13948 (10.1038/ncomms13948)
  • Wallner, A.; Feige, J.; Kinoshita, N. et al.
    Recent near-Earth supernovae probed by global deposition of interstellar radioactive 60Fe
    Nature 532(2016), 69-72 (10.1038/nature17196)
  • Schwanghart, W.; Bernhardt, A.; Stolle, A. et al.
    Repeated catastrophic valley infill following medieval earthquakes in the Nepal Himalaya
    Science 351(2016), 147-150 (10.1126/science.aac9865)
  • Bali, R.; Wintz, S.; Meutzner, F. et al.
    Printing Nearly-Discrete Magnetic Patterns Using Chemical Disorder Induced Ferromagnetism
    Nano Letters 14(2014)2, 435-441 (10.1021/nl404521c)
  • Wilhelm, R. A.; Gruber, E.; Ritter, R. et al.
    Charge Exchange and Energy Loss of Slow Highly Charged Ions in 1 nm Thick Carbon Nanomembranes
    Physical Review Letters 112(2014), 153201 (10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.153201)
  • Ou, X.; Keller, A.; Helm, M. et al.
    Reverse Epitaxy of Ge: Ordered and Faceted Surface Patterns
    Physical Review Letters 111(2013)1, 016101 (10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.016101)
  • Faßbender, J.
    The chemical way to ion irradiation
    Nature Nanotechnology 7(2012), 554-555 (10.1038/nnano.2012.149)