FRM I (left) and FRM II, research campus Garching - Photo: Andreas Battenberg / TUM
FRM I (left) and FRM II, research campus Garching - Photo: Andreas Battenberg / TUM

Ten years of neutrons from FRM II for research, industry and medicineAnniversary of most powerful neutron source worldwide

For exactly ten years the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz research neutron source (FRM II) of the Technische Universität München (TUM) has been providing research, industry and medicine with neutrons. Built to the latest safety standards, the facility enjoys such an excellent reputation worldwide that its 27 instruments are overbooked two-fold. Today the TU München celebrates the 10th anniversary with a festive ceremony in the Department of Physics.

On 2 March 2004 the new research neutron source in Garching began producing neutrons. Since then, it has been among the most effective sources for neutrons worldwide. In a ceremony in the Department of Physics, the TU München is today celebrating the tenth anniversary of the facility. Alongside reputable representatives from science, former Bavarian Minister President Dr. Edmund Stoiber and Minister of Science Dr. Ludwig Spaenle will speak as guests of honor. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is represented by Ministerial Director Dr. Karl-Eugen Huthmacher.

FRM II has earned an excellent reputation around the world in the past years. Every year some 1,000 guest researchers flock to Garching to undertake measurements. Alongside the TU München, a number of universities, institutes of the Max-Planck Society, the Research Center Jülich and the Helmholtz Centers Geesthacht and Berlin carry out experiments. Since beginning of 2013, this conglomeration goes by the name of “Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum” (MLZ).
The 15 initial instruments have grown to 27 today, with five more under construction. In 2005, an industrial application center for the production of radioisotopes, primarily for medical applications, was erected to the south of the old reactor dome. In 2009 the NEPOMUC instrument – the strongest positron source in the world – was taken into operation. In 2012, the PGAA instrument broke the world record for the strongest and purest neutron beam.

Neutron research at FRM I – the legendary “atomic egg” that went online in 1957 – formed the basis for the Garching research campus. Today, over 13,000 students and 6,000 employees study and do research on the campus. Initial plans for replacing the Garching neutron source by a new more powerful one were made as early as 1979. Construction of the new facility commenced in August 1996. It finally opened in 2004 following long and bitter political controversies.
“From early on the Bavarian government actively shaped and massively supported the transition to a knowledge society. FRM II is an important element of this strategy. In retrospect, one can say: The investment was well worth it. This beacon of innovation provides important impulses for science and business, and, as such, strengthens the competitiveness of Bavaria and Germany,” said former Bavarian Minister President Dr. Edmund Stoiber during the ceremony.

Science Minister Ludwig Spaenle emphasized the worldwide unique versatility of FRM II: “In research, FRM II has earned an international reputation as a word class research facility. The exceptional quality of the neutron flow opens completely new scientific perspectives in countless fields of research – in material science, energy research, physics or medicine. In addition to exceptional scientific quality, FRM II also serves an important task in education: Since its inception, over 6,000 pupils and teachers, as well as over 6,000 students have visited the facility.”

“The light of the neutrons grants us unique insight into the inner life of a wide variety of materials right down to the level of the atoms and molecules. The knowledge harvested here form a vital basis for the development of new technologies that will sustainably improve the lives of people,” noted TUM President Wolfgang A. Hermann. He stressed the courage of the political actors, who made it possible for the “largest infrastructure measure in the history of our university” to be realized.

“FRM II is the most modern reactor facility ever built in Germany and, in spite of many initial concerns, it has proven over the past 10 years to be highly reliable,” said the technical director of FRM II, Anton Kastenmüller. “We are perpetually pushing the development of the facility and the options for utilization. The TU München will thus retain one of the most powerful neutron sources in the world for many years to come and deploy the source to serve our society in science, research, industry and medicine”.

Technical University of Munich

Article at

Das Gasturbinen-Bauteil ist am Neutroneninstrument STRESS-SPEC in Messposition.

Energy-saving gas turbines from the 3D printer

3D printing has opened up a completely new range of possibilities. One example is the production of novel turbine buckets. However, the 3D printing process often induces internal stress in the components which can in the...

Dr. Lester Barnsley, Instrumentwissenschaftler des Forschungszentrums Jülich, an der Kleinwinkelneutronenstreuanlage KWS-1 des Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrums an der Forschungs-Neutronenquelle Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II) der Technischen Universität München.

Smart bottle brushes

They look like microscopic bottle brushes: Polymers with a backbone and tufts of side arms. This molecular design gives them unusual abilities: For example, they can bind active agents and release them again when the...

View into the SAPHiR multi-anvil press at the FRM II.

How stony-iron meteorites form

Meteorites give us insight into the early development of the solar system. Using the SAPHiR instrument at the Research Neutron Source Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), a scientific...

Research for the development of a new fuel with low enrichment: Teresa Kiechle and Julian Becker  in the uranium laboratory of the FRM II.

Pioneering work: Prototype of a new fuel

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Framatome are working together on the development of a new fuel for the research neutron source Heinz Maier-Leibniz (FRM II). The fuel shall consist of low-enriched, monolithic...

First author Sebastian Gruber and Prof. Dr. Petra Foerst evaluating the data of the freeze drying experiments.

Preserved and fresh

Freeze drying has provided us with tasty dried fruits in muesli, long-life yoghurt cultures and many other important products. For the first time, using neutron beams from the Heinz-Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II) research neutron...

Dr. Eve Stenson demonstriert an Ersatzteilen, wie die Positronen-Falle aufgebaut ist. (Bild: Axel Griesch / IPP)

A trap for positrons

For the first time, scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) have succeeded in losslessly guiding positrons, the antiparticles of electrons, into a...

Seinen 60. Geburtstag feiert das Garchinger „Atom-Ei“, der Forschungsreaktor München wurde am 31.10.1957 in Betrieb genommen. (Foto: Bernhard Ludewig / TUM)

The "Atomic Egg" celebrates is 60th birthday

On October 31, 1957, the Munich research reactor FRM went online for the first time. Until 2000, the “Atomic Egg” of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was a reliable provider of neutrons for basic research and...

In ihrer Gestaltung nehmen die einander gegenüberstehenden Gebäude Bezug aufeinander und rahmen den Blick auf das denkmalgeschützte „Atom-Ei“ ein – Bild: HENN

New buildings for the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum

The Research Neutron Source FRM II of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) is a magnet for researchers from a wide array of disciplines. Working groups of the Forschungszentrum Jülich have settled in Garching. And every...

Glykosidasekristall (links), mit seinem Beugungsbild, wie es bei der Neutronenstreuung am Instrument BioDiff entsteht. - Bild: TUM

Facilitating processing of biomass

Usually, harvesting energy and raw materials from plants requires many process steps and aggressive chemicals. To make these processes more efficient and resource saving, researchers are looking for suitable enzymes. Using...

Dr. Andreas Ostermann (rechts) und Dr. Tobias Schrader am Messinstrument BIODIFF des Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrums in Garching. (Bild: W. Schürmann / TUM)

Freeze-frame of an enzyme

Iron containing heme enzymes play a vital role in our bodies. Hemoglobin transports oxygen to the cells and the enzyme cytochrome c peroxidase degrades hydrogen peroxide. Using the BIODIFF neutron instrument, which is...

Dr. Nils Haag überprüft im Labor das Messsignal seines Doppeldetektors. In dem waagrechten Strahlrohr werden die Neutronen zu der bestrahlten Uranfolie geleitet, welche sich in der Mitte des Kreuzstücks befindet. Direkt unterhalb des Kreuzes liegt in der Verdickung die gasgefüllte Vieldrahtkammer.

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. However,...

Reaktorbecken im FRM II. (Foto: Andreas Heddergott)

TUM research reactor delivers first neutrons

The research neutron source FRM II of the Technische Universität München in Garching today produced its first neutrons. “With this, the most modern neutron source in the world has entered a decisive phase,” exclaims TU...

FRM I (links) und FRM II auf dem Campus Garching - Bild: Andreas Battenberg / TUM

Anniversary of most powerful neutron source worldwide

For exactly ten years the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz research neutron source (FRM II) of the Technische Universität München (TUM) has been providing research, industry and medicine with neutrons. Built to the latest safety...

Physiker Josef Lichtinger begutachtet die

Lithium in the brain

Experiments with neutrons at the Technische Universität München (TUM) show that the antidepressant lithium accumulates more strongly in white matter of the brain than in grey matter. This leads to the conclusion that it...

Metallisches Terbium. (Foto: Astrid Eckert / TUM)

Radionuclide treatment against small tumors and metastases

Medicine could very soon have a new ally in the fight against cancer: Terbium-161. Its most important weapon: Conversion and Auger electrons. Researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) have developed a new...

Prof. Dr. Pfleiderer bereitet eine Probe in der Forschungs-Neutronenquelle Heinz Maier-Leibnitz vor. (Photo: Wenzel Schuermann / TUM)

Electric current moves magnetic vortices

Faster, smaller and more energy efficient – that is what tomorrow’s computers should look like. This means that data needs to be written and processed faster. Physicists at the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the...

3D-Tomografie einer Säugetierlunge. (Bild: Robert Metzke, Burkhard Schillinger, TU München)

New strategies could save thousands of lives

According to current estimates, over 100,000 patients in Europe receive intensive medical care for acute pulmonary failure each year. Where patients require mechanical ventilation over several days, the survival rate falls...