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Department of Physics

The University’s first institute of physics was established shortly after the founding of the University itself, in 1948. It was housed in the building that was formerly home to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics, where Heisenberg and Debye had previously worked. Today’s Department of Physics was founded at the beginning of the 1970s when the University was reorganized and underwent extensive expansion. At the same time, planning work was begun on a new building, to which the department moved after its completion in 1982. Since then, the Department of Physics has enjoyed an excellent working environment, enhanced by its location in the leafy urban district of Dahlem.

The department’s work traditionally focuses on basic research. Current areas of interest include topics in solid-state and cluster physics, biophysics, and theoretical physics. The spectrum of individual subjects covered ranges from physical surfaces and their structures to biologically important molecules, from mathematical models to the theory associated with new materials. The department maintains a strong position in particular in the observation and manipulation of atoms on surfaces. Another of its strengths is the use of ultra-short light pulses to track chemical reactions. The department is home to three collaborative research centers (Sonderforschungsbereiche) and individual research groups are involved in a number of additional areas and priority programs.