The Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik ("MPI for Nuclear Physics" or MPIK for short) is a research institute in Heidelberg, Germany.
The institute is one of the 80 institutes of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (Max Planck Society), an independent, non-profit research organization. The Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics has been founded in 1958 under the leadership of Wolfgang Gentner. Its precursor was the Institute for Physics at the MPI for Medical Research.
Today, the institute's research areas are: crossroads of particle physics and astrophysics (astroparticle physics) and many-body dynamics of atoms and molecules (quantum dynamics). There are five scientific divisions and several further research groups and junior groups. Scientific and technical departments as well as the administration support the researchers. The institute has about 390 employees, as well as many diploma students and scientific guests.
The research field of Astroparticle Physics, represented by the divisions of Werner Hofmann and Manfred Lindner, combines questions related to macrocosm and microcosm. Unconventional methods of observation for gamma rays and neutrinos open new windows to the universe. What lies behind “dark matter” and “dark energy” is theoretically investigated.
The research field of Quantum Dynamics is represented by the divisions of Klaus Blaum, Christoph Keitel and Joachim Ullrich. Using reaction microscopes, simple chemical reactions can be “filmed”. Storage rings and traps allow precision experiments almost under space conditions. The interaction of intense laser light with matter is investigated using quantum-theoretical methods.
Further research fields are cosmic dust, atmospheric physics as well as fullerenes and other carbon molecules.
Scientists at the MPIK collaborate with other research groups in Europe and all over the world and are involved in numerous international collaborations, partly in a leading role. Particularly close connections to some large-scale facilities like GSI (Darmstadt), DESY (Hamburg), CERN (Geneva), INFN-LNGS (Assergi L‘Aquila) exist.
In the local region, the Institute cooperates closely with the University of Heidelberg, where the directors and further members of the Institute are teaching. Three International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) and a graduate school serve to foster young scientists.
The institute operates accelerators (12 MV Tandem, 15 MV high-current injector, 25 MV linear postaccelerator) injecting highly charged atomic ions or molecular ions into a storage ring (TSR). The electron-beam ion trap (EBIT) is able to produce and store 78-fold charged mercury ions.