Prof. Alexander M. Bradshaw
last updated:
August 30, 2013

Emeritus Director, Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics

Contact Info

Theory Department of the
Fritz Haber Institute
Faradayweg 4-6
14195 Berlin-Dahlem, Germany
Phone: + 49 30 8413 4860
Fax: + 49 30 8413 4701

Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik
Boltzmannstrasse 2
85748 Garching, Germany
Phone: + 49 89 3299 2123

Curriculum Vitae

Alex Bradshaw was born in 1944 in Bushey, UK. After studying chemistry at the University of London he took his PhD in 1969 in physical chemistry (supervisor: John Pritchard). Following post-doctoral studies in the group of Dietrich Menzel, the Habilitation was awarded at the Technical University of Munich in 1974. From 1976 to 1998 he worked at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, from 1980 onwards as Scientific Member and Director of the Department of Surface Physics. Parallel to his position at the Fritz Haber Institute, he was also Scientific Director of the Berlin synchrotron radiation source, BESSY, in the 1980's. From 1999 to 2008 Bradshaw was Scientific Director of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) and for several years spokesman for the German nuclear fusion programme. Since 2009 he is a guest in the Department of Theory of the Fritz Haber Institute.

Bradshaw was until recently an honorary professor in experimental physics at the Technical University of Berlin and is still active in this capacity at the Technical University of Munich. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London as well as a member of the German National Academy of Sciences ("Leopoldina"), the German National Academy of Engineering (acatech), the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the Academia Europaea. 1998-2000 he was President of the German Physical Society and co-initiator of the first German "science year" Jahr der Physik in 2000. In 2012 the German Physical Society made him an Honorary Member. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and a Fellow of the European Physical Society. He has been a member of numerous national and international evaluation panels and also chaired EU committees on large-scale facilities and nuclear fusion. Bradshaw was co-founder and first Editor-in-Chief of the "open-access" New Journal of Physics. He has received several prizes and awards for his research and for his services to the physics community. At the national level he has been awarded the German Bundesverdienstkreuz and appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Earlier research interests

In his first period at the Fritz Haber Institute Bradshaw worked mainly on the spectroscopic and structural characterisation of adsorbed atoms and molecules, in particular using infrared spectroscopy and photoelectron spectroscopy, or photoemission. In the 1970's he studied photoemission from adsorbed species and, with Karsten Horn, discovered the formation of two-dimensional adsorbate band structures. In cooperation with Phil Woodruff he introduced and applied extensively the method of quantitative photoelectron diffraction using synchrotron radiation, which has since led to the determination of more than 85 adsorbate structures. Bradshaw also studied photoabsorption phenomena (NEXAFS and SEXAFS) in free and adsorbed molecules, as well as surface reactions using low energy electron microscopy. He has also worked on instrumentation development, in particular for synchrotron radiation experiments, and wrote the first proposal for the construction of BESSY II in 1985. Together with Josef Feldhaus he turned his attention in the 1990's to free molecules, and published several seminal papers on core level photoionisation phenomena.

Present research

The work on photoionization and Auger decay in atoms, molecules and clusters has continued to the present day, thanks to a fruitful co-operation with Uwe Hergenhahn. Recent studies of intermolecular Coulomb decay (ICD) in water clusters, band formation in rare gas clusters and electron transfer-mediated decay (ETMD) should be mentioned at this point.

Since acquiring emeritus status, energy questions, in particular the use of nuclear fusion as an energy source, have occupied more of Bradshaw's time. Some of these studies have been carried out with Thomas Hamacher and his group at the Technical University of Munich. In particular, Bradshaw has looked at the raw materials needed for fusion and whether there is likely to be a supply problem for possible future fusion power plants. This work has recently been extended to the raw materials, in particular rare, or minor, metals needed for the generation, transmission, storage and utilisation of renewable energy forms. Many of them are regarded as "scarce". Examples are neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium for rare earth-based permanent magnets in wind turbines; indium, gallium, selenium and tellurium for thin film solar cells. Various factors are expected to contribute to "scarcity" including fluctuations in demand, investment constraints, geopolitical factors, environmental problems, the status of the mineral as a by-product and, possibly, geochemical scarcity. It is suggested that the latter may pertain under certain circumstances when inflation-corrected mineral prices are rising. Mineral exhaustion in the Earth's crust is unlikely. If, however, uninhibited usage were to continue, a situation would be reached, which could be termed "effective" exhaustion, where the cost of producing a further ton in terms of energy, water and environmental damage will be so great, that extraction would automatically cease. Our society, or world economy, would switch to a cheaper, more readily available, but for the purpose less appropriate substitute. Such problems, which derive from application of general sustainability criteria, require a deeper discussion, not only in a scientific, but also in an ethical context.

Publications 1998 - present