Division of Nuclear Physics

The nuclear physics division at Helmholtz-Center Dresden-Rossendorf performs research on the structure of atomic nuclei and reactions between them. Our research helps to understand the genesis of the chemical elements in cosmic scenarios and applies such knowledge in nuclear interactions to advanced concepts in nuclear waste management and reduction. Furthermore, we develop new types of radiation detectors for fundamental research, medicine, and applications. We perform applied materials research using nuclear physics methods, and we are responsible for several user beam lines at the superconducting electron linear accelerator ELBE.

Foto: nELBE Experiment (Photo) ©Copyright: Dr. Arnd Junghans

Nuclear Physics Data for Science and Technology

We investigate neutron-induced and photonuclear reactions to provide data relevant to basic science, nuclear astrophysics, and technology.

  • At the nELBE photo-neutron source an intensive, continuous spectrum of 1011 neutrons per second is generated. Time of flight measurements allow to precisely determine reaction rates e.g. of inelastic neutron scattering and neutron induced fission.
  • The γELBE bremsstrahlung source generates a photon spectrum with an end point energy of up to 18 MeV. Nuclear reactions and nuclear structure are studied by photon scattering and photoactivation, both in conjunction with high resolution γ spectroscopy.
Foto: MePS Positron beam line at ELBE ©Copyright: Reinhard Krause-Rehberg, Martin-Luther Univ. Halle

Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy

Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy (PAS) allows non-destructive investigations in the research fields materials research, chemistry, and biological tissue. Positrons, being the anti-particles of electrons, are employed as highly sensitive probes for material defects at the nanometer scale.

At HZDR, several setups with complementary features are used in PAS research:

  • MePS: Mono-energetic Positron Source at the superconducting elelectron LINAC ELBE.
  • GiPS: Gamma-induced Positron Source at ELBE using high energy photons from bremsstrahlung production inside the sample.
  • SPONSOR: Mono-energetic positron beam fed by the decay of Na-22 for (Coincidence-) Doppler-broadening spectroscopy.
  • LT: Conventional positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy (based on Na-22).
Foto: Detector development ©Copyright: PD Dr. Daniel Bemmerer

Detector Development for basic research

For basic research, detectors with very high time resolution and excellent sensitivity are required. This is particularly true for the experiments HADES, CBM, and R3B at GSI and FAIR in Darmstadt, Germany. A long-standing, sustained effort has been mounted at HZDR to support these experiments by developing and testing high-performance detectors, especially for timing purposes. New concepts for detector development are being transferred to medical applications and to research in high-energy density research. We develop time-of-flight detectors with 0.1 ns time resolution, enabling kinematically complete experiments.

Foto: 5MV Pelletron accelerator for Felsenkeller, unloading at HZDR ©Copyright: Bernd Rimarzig

Nuclear astrophysics

Nuclear reactions deliver the energy that powers our Sun, and they are the source of the chemical elements that are necessary for human life.



  • The June 2018 edition of HZDR's inhouse journal Insider contains an article about materials research with positrons: "Signale aus der ANTI-WELT. Positronenforschung am HZDR".
  • Daniel Gehre successfully defendend his PhD thesis on "Investigations on CdZnTe-Semiconductor-Detectors for the Search of the Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay" with magna cum laude June 21st, 2018 at the Technische Universität Dresden. Congratulations, Daniel.
  • Louis Wagner successfully defendend his PhD thesis on "Precise nuclear data of the 14N(p,γ)15O reaction for solar neutrino predictions" with magna cum laude June 7th , 2018 at the Technische Universität Dresden. Cheerio, Louis!
  • The publication "The γ-ray angular distribution in fast neutron inelastic scattering from iron" by Roland Beyer, et al. has been selected to illustrate the front cover of the European Physical Journal, issue 54/4, 2018. A wounderful recognition of your work, Roland!
  • Maik Butterling finished the 42. Leipzig half-marathon distance in remarkable 1 h 53 m 3 s, hitting almost exactly 5:11 m / km - a positron annihilators special number. Congratulations, Maik. 
  • The new beamline connecting the upcoming AIDA-II setup, short for Apparatus for In-situ Defect Analysis, with the MePS positron beam line has been commissioned successfully April 18th, 2018. Deep thanks go to Maik Görler, Andreas Hartmann, Daniel Stach, and Stefan Findeisen for design and construction, hours spent winding coils and installation of all components.  
  • Boyana Deneva received the best poster award at the annual PhD seminar 2017 for her contribution on "Single-plane Compton Imaging". Congratulations, Boyana!
  • Marcell Takács defendend his PhD thesis on "Hydrogen burning: Study of the 22Ne(p,γ)23Na, 3He(α,γ)7Be, and 7Be(p,γ)8B reactions at ultra-low energies" with magna cum laude September 12th , 2017 at the Technische Universität Dresden. All the best for you, Marcell!
  • Daniel Bemmerer received a Helmholtz Recognition Award for his grant proposal at the European Research Commission targeting nuclear astrophysics measurements at Felsenkellerlabor. Very good news, Daniel!
  • The accelerator tank and the first beamline magnet of the 5 MV Pelletron TANDEM had been succesfully inserted April 27th 2017 into the new underground laboratory Felsenkeller. Congratulations to Bernd Rimarzig and Daniel Bemmerer.
  • Daniel Bemmerer and Marcell Takács co-authored a publication about the impact of LUNA measurements of the proton capture reaction in 17O on the isotopic composition of instellar dust grains in the new Journal Nature Astronomy. Best regards to both of you.
  • Toni Kögler defendend his PhD thesis (about the neutron-induced fission cross section of Pu-242) with distinction (summa cum laude) January 23rd, 2017 at the Technische Universität Dresden. Cheerio, Toni!
  • Maciej Oskar Liedke is one of the co-aouthors of a publication on a new type of magneto-electric random-access memory material in Nature Materials. You deserve our utmost respect, Oskar!
  • Mirco Dietz won the Best Poster Award for his contribution to the ND 2016 (International Conference on Nuclear Data for Science and Technology). Congratulations to Mirco!
  • Several hundreds of visitors during Dresden's "Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften" found their way to the upcoming underground laboratory Felsenkeller. Thanks go to Marcel Grieger, Felix Ludwig, Stefan Reinicke, Stefan Schulz, Louis Wagner, and Daniel Bemmerer for their enthusiasm and their effort during the presentations.
  • We published an article with the title Alles im Fluss about the facility ELBE in the member magazine Physik Journal of the German Physical Society.
  • Mirco Dietz received the "Best Poster Presentation award" at the ICTP-IAEA School on "Nuclear data measurements for science and applications" from 19 - 30 October 2015 for his contribution "γ-angular distributions af 56Fe(n,n'γ) @ nELBE Time-of-Flight facility". Congratulations, Mirco!
  • The positron group organized an international workshop with 55 participants on "Methods and Applicatons of Porosimetry" from 21. - 23. October, 2015.
  • Konrad Schmidt defendend his PhD thesis (about experimental studies of the 40Ca(α,γ)44Ti reaction) with distinction (summa cum laude) June 29th, 2015 at the Technische Universität Dresden. Super, Konrad!
  • Marco Jungmann successfully defendend his PhD thesis (about the monoenergetic positron source at ELBE and porosity of thin low-k films) June 1st, 2015 at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. All the best, Marco!
  • Roland Hannaske defended his PhD thesis (about deuteron break-up experiments for the big bang nucleosynthesis) with distinction (summa cum laude) May 26st, 2015 at the Technische Universität Dresden. Congratulations, Roland!
  • Georg Schramm (diploma thesis in nuclear physics) defended his PhD thesis (Dr. rer. medic) with distinction (summa cum laude) January 21st, 2015. Congratulations, Georg!

Former news

Third party funded projects

  • DFG "Combining spectroscopic methods for fundamental studies of pore and network formation in mesoporous low-k dielectrics", A. Wagner, S. Schulz (TU Chemnitz, Fraunhofer ENAS Chemnitz) (2018-2021)
  • DFG "Lithium production", D. Bemmerer, K. Zuber (TU Dresden) (2017-2020)
  • EU-FP7 "CHANDA: solving CHAllenges in Nuclear DAta", A. R. Junghans (2013-2018)
  • DAAD "PPP Tschechien: Leerstellen und Leerstellen-Wasserstoffkomplexe in ZnO", W. Anwand (2015-2016)
  • Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, Partner beim virtuellen Institut NAVI, D. Bemmerer (2011-2016)
  • DFG "Untersuchung des Einflusses der Kerndeformation auf Dipol-Stärkeverteilungen", R. Schwengner (2011-2014)
  • BMBF, Energie 2020+, "Transmutationsrelevante kernphysikalische Untersuchungen mit Einsatz moderner technologischer und numerischer Methoden", A. R. Junghans (2009-2014)
  • DAAD "PPP Tschechien: Untersuchung der Mikrostruktur dünner Metallfilme", W. Anwand (2011-2012)
  • DFG "alpha capture for astrophysics", D. Bemmerer (2009-2014)
  • EU-FP7 "ERINDA: European Research Infrastructures for Nuclear Data Applications ", A. R. Junghans (2010-2013, project coordinator)
  • BMBF "Hadronen- und Kernphysik", T. Cowan / A. Wagner (2009-2012)
  • DFG "Photodissoziation des Deuterons", A. R. Junghans (2008-2012)
  • EU-FP6 "EFNUDAT: European Facilities for Nuclear Data Measurements", A. R. Junghans (2007-2010)


Dr. Andreas Wagner
Head Nuclear Physics Division
Phone: +49 351 260 3261
Fax: +49 351 260 13261