Development and application of synchrotron-based photon science for materials and life-science research

For over 60 years, synchrotron radiation has provided a unique tool to investigate the structure of matter. The continuing development of high-brilliance synchrotron photon sources possessing an extremely wide energy spectrum, ultra-small beam dimensions and extreme temporal resolution, has made it possible to investigate a huge range of dynamic processes in materials and biological systems.

At IPS we develop and apply state-of-the-art synchrotron analytical methods within the framework of the Helmholtz Research Program "From Matter to Materials and Life" (MML). Within the MML research topics  "Materials: quantum, complex and functional materials", and "Life Sciences: building blocks of life - structure and function", research activities at IPS focus on understanding the relationships between structure and function in two primary research fields:

  • Real-world materials and processes for energy conversion, information, and transport,
  • Morphology of organisms in correlation to genetics and environment in the life sciences

For this purpose IPS develops and applies synchrotron-based in situ & operando X-ray imaging, X-ray spectroscopy, and X-ray scattering techniques optimised to investigate dynamic processes. We perform pioneering, proof-of-principle experiments as well as systematic studies, which contribute to an understanding of the relationships between structure and function in materials and life-science research & technology.

Our research activities are closely linked to academic teaching and research within the KIT Faculties of Physics and Chemistry & Biosciences, and  we work in close cooperation with other KIT institutes and with leading national and international research institutions and universities.

Telling sulfates apart using x-ray spectroscopy

Sulfur compounds play an important role in applied materials systems such as lithium-sulfur batteries, thin-film solar cells, and catalysts. Using X-ray emission spectroscopy (XES) at the sulphur L-edge, the authors have characterized the chemical and electronic structures of a number of different sulfate phases and observed subtle but distinct differences in the spectra of sulfates with different cations.

Luminescence in gold clusters and the Fojtik-Henglein Prize

Ligand-free gold clusters have been produced by laser fragmentation and analysed for light emission. The results of the study help to solve the conundrum of luminescence in gold clusters with complex ligand stabilization. The authors of the study have been awarded the 2021 Fojtik-Henglein Prize.

X-ray Imaging reveals new aspects of metamorphosis in insects

By examining numerous insects using synchrotron radiation, a research team led by the University of Bonn has challenged a hypothesis of evolutionary theory in stoneflies. The study shows for the first time how closely successive life stages are linked in insects without a pupal stage.