The Hahn-Meitner Institute (HMI) is a scientific research institute which focuses on two main areas of work: structural and solar energy research. Structural research encompasses atomic and molecular structures and internal kinetic processes in solid matter. The aim is to gain understanding of macroscopic properties using microscopic processes. Solar energy research examines materials and manufacturing processes for the direct conversion of sunlight into electrical or chemical energy. Around 40% of the 800 employees are scientists, mostly physicists and chemists. The HMI has the legal form of a GmbH (limited liability company). In line with the shareholdings, it is financed to 90% by the Federal Government (Federal Ministry for Education and Research) and to 10% by the Land Berlin (Senate Administration for Science, Research and Culture ).
The basic and applied research undertaken by the HMI is anchored in the programmes of the Federal Government, the EU, the Hermann von Helmholtz Society and in regional structures. Its co-operation with Berlin universities and the research centre BESSY is of particular importance. Furthermore, it also co-operates with numerous institutes, universities and companies around the world. It is involved in projects on the next generation of large-scale research institutes like the European Spallation Source for neutrons and the Free Electron Laser (FEL) in the DESY research centre in Hamburg.
The research reactor BER II is a source of neutron beams for structural and materials research. The experiments with the reactor are co-ordinated by the Berlin Centre for Neutron Scattering, BENSC, in the HMI. Around 400 visiting scientists use approximately 70% of the measuring time on the reactor every year. The NAA-Laboratory is available for the analysis of chemical elements with neutrons.
The accelerators in the Ion Beam Laboratory, ISL, generate high energy ion beams. The surfaces and internal structures of solid matter can be analysed and changed in a targeted manner using ion beams. Furthermore, there is a radiation therapy unit for the treatment of eye tumours with fast protons.
The solar energy research of the Institute focuses on the principles of innovative solar cells and electrochemical energy accumulators. In this field the Institute works within the German Solar Energy Research Alliance (FVS) with seven German scientific institutions.
The HMI is making increased use of the synchrotron radiation of the electron storage ring BESSY in Berlin-Adlershof. The combination of neutron and ion radiation with the synchrotron radiation of BESSY offers unique opportunities for the analysis of the structure of solid matter.
Besides research into fundamental processes, the tackling of application-oriented issues is playing an increasingly important role in the Hahn-Meitner Institute. Amongst other things, the HMI examines residual stress in workpieces, material changes caused by ion traces, the medical effects of trace element supply and the scale-up of laboratory results to the production of solar cells.