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: Prof. 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: Ceremonial start of operations of Felsenkeller 5 MV underground accelerator on 04.07.2019: Physics Nobel Laureate Prof. Takaaki Kajita (center) together with PD Dr. Daniel Bemmerer (Deputy Scientific Director Felsenkeller), Prof. Gerhard Rödel (Prorektor Research, TU Dresden), Prof. Thomas Cowan (Director, HZDR Institute for Radiation Physics), Prof. Kai Zuber (Scientific Director Felsenkeller). ©Copyright: André Wirsig / HZDR

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.


Department News

  • Daniel Bemmerer has been appointed as honorary professor at the Technische Universität Dresden. Congratulations to Daniel for this success and his efforts!
  • Marcel Grieger successfully defended 19.11.2021 his PhD thesis on "Neutronenfluss in Untertagelaboren" at Technical University Dresden. Congratulations to Marcel and all the best wishes fro your future endeavours!
  • Unfortunately, we had to learn painfully that our former colleague Dr. Robert Greifenhagen died in an accident on 20.10.2021. With him, we lose a very clever, friendly and helpful colleague and we are full of sympathy for his bereaved.
  • Felix Ludwig successfully defended 23.09.2021 his PhD thesis on "Underground measurements and simulations on the muon intensity and 12C-induced nuclear reactions at low energies" at Technical University Dresden. Congratulations Felix and all the best from us!
  • Maik Butterling prepared and conducted online the 12.5th International Workshop on Positron and Positronium Chemistry (30.8.-3.9.2021) as member of the international organizing committee. Many thanks for your effort, Maik!
  • Roland Beyer and others received the HZDR price 2020 for science communications and Robert Greifenhagen has been awarded with a recognition reward for outstanding dissertations of HZDR in 2020. Congratulations to you, Roland and Robert!
  • Martin Rauch has been awarded with the 4th physics prize in the 56th national competition of jugend forscht on 2.6.2021, having already been the state winner in Saxony-Anhalt. Martin also received a prize from the Adolf Martens Fund e.V. and a special prize from the Ernst A.C. Lange Foundation which comes with an invitation to the London International Youth Science Forum. Reinhard Krause-Rehberg and Eric Hirschmann supported his project "Präziser Blick ins Material - Laterale Auflösung in der Positronen-Lebensdauerspektroskopie". Congratulations to you, Martin! 

  • Klaus Stöckel successfully defended his Dissertation 9.3.2021 on "Präzise Vermessung des Wirkungsquerschnitts der 2H(p,gamma)3He-Reaktion im Gran Sasso Untertagelabor" at Technische Universität Dresden.Congratulations to you, Klaus!
  • We teamed up with scientists from Technical University Darmstadt and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology on defect studies in ZnO resulting in a cover profile in Chemistry - a European Journal.  Delighted.
  • Eric Hirschmann successfully defended his Dissertation 11.01.2021 on "Analyse der Porenstruktur in Schichtsystemen von kontrolliert extrahierten Natrium-Borosilikat-Glasplatten am digital optimierten monoenergetischen Positronen-Strahl des HZDR" at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg with summa cum laude. Congratulations, Eric!
  • Robert Greifenhagen successfully defended his Dissertation 11.12.2020 on "Two-Pion Intensity-Interferometry in Collisions of Au+Au at 2.41 GeV measured with HADES" summa cum laude at Technische Universität Dresden. Super, Robert!

  • Martin Becker finished best (Kammerbester Auszubildender im Stadtgebiet Dresden) his vocational training and he became  
    an electronics technician for automation technology. Congratulations, Martin and thanks to his instructors Maik Görler, Paul Petring, Daniel Stach, and David Weinberger.
  • Maciej Oskar Liedke, Maik Butterling und Andreas Wagner are co-authors of a paper on "Voltage‐driven motion of nitrogen ions: a new paradigm for magneto‐ionics", published in Nature Communications 11, 5871 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19758-x. Congratulations!

  • Klaus Stöckel, Daniel Bemmerer Tamas Szücs and Marcell Takács co-authored (Klaus is 2nd author) a publication on deuterium burning and its implication on the cosmological baryonic density of the universe, published in Nature 587, 210–213 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2878-4. Heartfelt congratulations to you on this sucess! Click here for the press release.
  • Robert Greifenhagen, Burkhard Kämpfer, Roland Kotte and Lothar Naumann co-authored as members of the HADES-collaboration a publication on  "Probing dense baryon-rich matter with virtual photons" in Nature Physics 15, 1040-1045 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-019-0583-8. With great respect!

  • Xingming Fan successfully defended his PhD thesis on "Testing RPC Performance with Discharges Ignited by UV Laser Pulses: Precise measurement of gas parameters in approximately realistic RPC configurations"  with magna cum laude October 21th, 2019 at the Technische Universität Dresden. Congratulations and Gōngxǐ, Xingming.
  • At the Nuclear Physics in Astrophysics IX conference in Castle Waldthausen, close to Mainz, from September 15th to 20th 2019, Franziska Schoger won the poster award for her work on 22Ne(p,γ)23Na resonances at HZDR's 3 MV tandetron accelerator. Congratulations to you, Franziska!
  • Eric Hirschmann won the second poster award at the 15th International Workshop on Slow Positron Beam Techniques & Applications (SLOPOS-15) which took place from September 2. to September 6. in Prague. Congratulations, Eric!
  • Our underground laboratory in the Felsenkeller saw his first accelerated beam with the Pelletron on 3.7.2019. Prof. Takaaki Kajita (Univ. Tokio, Nobel laureate in physics 2015) started scientific operations one day later. Congratulations and many, many thanks to all who have contributed to this success in PD. Dr. Daniel Bemmerer's team! 
  • Thu Trang Trinh successfully defendend here PhD thesis on "The microscopic effects of transition metal based hydrogen storing and sensing thin films"  with magna cum laude December 17th, 2018 at the Technische Universität Dresden. Chúc mừng, Trang.
  • Stefan Reinicke successfully defendend his PhD thesis on "Solar hydrogen burning in the sun: The 12C(p,γ)13N-reaction and a radio-frequency ion-source for the Felsenkeller-accelerator" with magna cum laude November 2nd, 2018 at the Technische Universität Dresden. Congratulations, Stefan.
  • 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.  

Older "news"

Active third-party funded projects

  • DFG "Methodenentwicklung zur Charakterisierung offenporigen Netzwerkverbindungen mittels Positronen-Annihilations-Spektroskopie (PAS)“, A.G.A. Elsherif, S. Kaskel (TU Dresden) (2022-2025)
  • EU "Chemical Elements as Tracers of the Evolution of the Cosmos – Infrastructures for Nuclear Astrophysics (ChETEC-INFRA), European Union’s Horizon", D. Bemmerer, K. Schmidt (2020-2023), coordinator
  • EURATOM coordination and support project "Accelerator and Research reactor Infrastructures for Education and Learning (ARIEL)", A. R. Junghans (2019-2023), coordinator
  • SAB "Development of high-rate radiation detectors based on new types of ceramics resistive plates", L. Naumann and Fraunhofer IKTS Dresden, iseg Dresden, GBS Dresden and MicroCeram Meißen (2019-2021), coordinator
  • 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)

Previous third-party funded projects

  • Helmholtz Enterprise Field Study Fellowship "COMPAS: Combined Methods for Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy", E. Hirschmann (2020)
  • 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