7. Development into a surface and interface science
In October 1958 Rudolf Brill was
appointed director of the institute and in March 1959 he succeeded Max von
Laue as chief institute director. Brill headed the institute until the
spring of 1969. Amongst other subjects, his was engaged in studies of
catalytic properties for heterogeneous reactions which were investigated
using X-ray diffraction methods and kinetic measurements. He took a
particular interest in catalysts used in the ammonia synthesis as well as
in hydrogenation and oxidation catalysts. From 1955 to 1964 three new
buildings on Faradayweg 16 were added to the institute, housing
Ueberreiter's group and taken over later by the departments of Profs.
Block and Hosemann. The buildings had been used previously by the
Max-Planck Institute for Silicate Research housing a group working on
micromorphology of silicates.
In November 1969 Heinz
Gerischer was appointed to succeed Brill as chief institute director. He
headed the Department of Physical Chemistry and initiated research in the
areas of electrochemistry, photo electrochemistry, and fast reactions. His
department focused also on studies of solid surfaces under ultra-high
vacuum conditions and their interaction with gases. Further, exploiting
the low temperature technology already developed by von Laue at the
institute, a research program on matrix isolation spectroscopy was
started. Here the transition between atomic and metallic properties in
clusters was investigated. When Gerischer was appointed, Jochen H. Block
became Scientific Fellow of the institute. He had been hired by Brill in
1966 and had built up his own department in which kinetic processes on
metal surfaces were studied using field electron and field ion
microscopies. In 1974 a new building for electron microscopy was
completed. This building was constructed in particular to isolate Ruska's
ultrahigh resolution microscopes against external vibrations.
During this period two internal
reorganizations were carried out (1974 and 1980). In 1974, the institute
was restructured to consist of three sections which were to combine their
collaborative efforts: Physical Chemistry (directors: J. H. Block, H.
Gerischer, K. Molière), Structure Research (directors: R. Hosemann,
Kurt Ueberreiter), and Electron Microscopy (director: E. Ruska until
1974). H. Gerischer remained the chief institute director. In 1977 Elmar
Zeitler was appointed Scientific Fellow and director at the institute as
successor of Ernst Ruska.
After the retirement of R.
Hosemann, K. Molière, and Kurt Ueberreiter in 1980 a second
reorganization introduced a collegiate structure for the institute with
stronger emphasis on surface and interface science. In November 1980 Alexander
Bradshaw was appointed Scientific Fellow and director at the institute
heading the Department of Surface Physics. Since 1976 he had built up his
own group in the Department of Physical Chemistry, with emphasis on the
spectroscopy of solid surfaces and on the study of chemisorbed molecules.
In 1999 Bradshaw accepted the request to become chief director of the
Institute for Plasma Physics of the MPG in Garching and Greifswald, and in
2002 his Department of Surface Physics was terminated.
In 1977, on the initiative of
the Fritz-Haber Institute and the German Federal Institute of Standards
(PTB) planning started for a synchrotron-radiation light source in Berlin.
A company (BESSY) was founded in 1979 to build and operate the necessary
electron storage ring. Members of the company included the Max-Planck
Society, the Hahn-Meitner Institute, the Fraunhofer Society, and the
German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg as well as four industrial
companies. The Fritz-Haber Institute provided the Scientific Director and
was also concerned with administration in the initial phase. Bradshaw was
appointed Scientific Director of BESSY in 1981 and again in 1988 after the
tragical death of his successor Ernst-Eckard Koch. Since the start of
experimental activities at BESSY in 1982 the radiation source has been
intensively used by various groups at the institute. The new storage ring
BESSY II, starting to operate in 1999, plays also a prominent role in the
research program of the institute.
In 1986 Gerhard Ertl succeeded Gerischer as director of the Department of Physical
Chemistry and was appointed Scientific Fellow at the institute. His
research interests focus on structure and chemical reactions at solid
In 1986 Ernst Ruska was awarded
the Nobel price for his scientific achievements in connection with the
development of the electron microscope.
A joint Computer
Center (Gemeinsames Netzwerkzentrum, GNZ) for the Fritz-Haber
Institute and the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics was opened
in 1986, initially providing computer services such as cpu resources,
networking, software, mailing, purchase consulting etc. for all members
and visitors of both institutes. In 2002 this computer center was renamed
"Gemeinsames Netzwerkzentrum der Berlin-Brandenburgischen
Max-Planck-Institute, GNZ)" assuming responsibility for all network
components connecting the old and recently founded Max-Planck institutions
(12 altogether) of the Berlin and nearby Brandenburg region.
In July 1988 Matthias Scheffler was appointed Scientific Fellow of the
institute and director of the newly opened
department specializes in surface theory as well as solid state
research, quantum chemistry, and computational physics.
Shortly before the retirement of Elmar Zeitler in 1995
was appointed Scientific Fellow of the institute. The Department of Electron
Microscopy was closed and a new Department of Inorganic
Chemistry was established. This department concentrates on
heterogeneous reactions on inorganic surfaces. Oxidation reactions of
carbons and metals are studied as well as a range of heterogeneous
catalytic processes involving partial oxidation and dehydrogenation steps.
The goal of this experimental research is to bridge the gap between
surface physics and surface chemistry. To this end, a range of in-situ
analytical techniques and synthetic efforts were established to create
realistic model surfaces with defined catalytic functions. The tradition
of electron microscopy has been continued with the installation of two new
commercial high-resolution transmission electron microscopes in 1996.
After the unexpected death of
Jochen Block in 1995, Hans-Joachim Freund became director of the Department of
Surface Reactions and
was appointed Scientific Fellow of the institute. The department was
renamed into Department of Chemical Physics, its objectives being studies
of adsorption and reaction on solids, in particular, on oxide surfaces.
In 2002 Gerard Meijer was
appointed as a new director at the institute, and he installed the new
Department of Molecular Physics. Respective renovations and rebuilding
started in autumn 2002, and the new department is expected to be
operational in autumn 2003.
(This text is based on several sources, including H. Gerischer and E. Henning.)