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.


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Active third-party funded projects

  • EU "Recyclable materials development at analytical research infratructures: ReMade@ARI", E. Hirschmann (2022 - 2026)
  • 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

Previous third-party funded projects

  • 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)
  • 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)