About the Institute
All working groups at the Institute of Physical Chemistry concern themselves with nanoscopic systems. Their main focus is on the variation of the size and shape of different metallic and semiconductor structures which can be produced using special synthesis methods. The working groups for physical chemistry investigate the nanostructures using microscopic and spectroscopic methods and describe them using theoretical methods. This forms the basis of investigations into potential applications for nanostructures in the fields of energy transformation and sensor technology. Particular emphasis is put on
- the production and characterization of functional nanostructured polymer structures (Prof. Dr. V. Abetz)
- the layout and structure of protein-based nanomaterials (Prof. Dr. Tobias Beck)
- the theoretical modeling of material with nanoscopic length scales (Prof. Dr. G. Bester)
- the investigation of ultra-fast electronic phenomena in nanostructures (Prof. Dr. H. Lange)
- the investigation of the relationship between structure and properties of individual nanostructures using microscopic methods (Prof. Dr. A. Mews)
- the production of different material classes of nanostructures for a wide variety of applications (Prof. Dr. H. Weller)
The history of the Institute
These pages are intended to present Hamburg’s physical chemistry literature. Independent publishers are therefore presented along with their respective organizational structure. Today’s Department of Chemistry at Universität Hamburg developed out of the state institute for chemistry, Chemisches Staatsinstitut, which itself was formed during the founding of the University out of the state laboratory for chemistry, Chemisches Staatslaboratorium. The latter was formally the chemical laboratories of the academic grammar school, Akademisches Gymnasium.
The history can be divided into 6 broad steps:
|Akademisches Gymnasium, with chemistry as only a small part of the natural sciences
|Akademisches Gymnasium which offered chemistry as a subject, strongly influenced by Karl Wiebel
|Chemisches Staatslaboratorium, strongly influenced by Ferdinand Wibel and Max Dennstedt
|Chemisches Staatsinstitut at Universität Hamburg, until the end of the Second World War, strongly influenced by Paul Rabe, Heinrich Remy and Heinrich Schlubach
Otto Stern was the head of the independent Institute for Physical Chemistry
|Chemisches Staatsinstitut at Universität Hamburg, influenced by Kurt Heyns and Heinrich Remy
|Department of Chemistry of Universität Hamburg, influenced by Kurt Heyns, Reinhard Nast, Hansjörg Sinn and Wolf Walter
Originally, chemistry was not a stand-alone discipline but only a component part of the natural sciences. Joachim Jungius, professor of physics and logic from 1629–1657, studied atomism and thus contributed to the establishment of chemistry as a natural science. In his dissertation “Doxoscopiae Physicae Minores” he repudiated the 4 elements of antiquity (fire, earth, air and water) and the 3 from alchemy (mercury, sulfur and salt) and defined chemical elements as pure substances, which could not be broken down into any further component parts. He thus also contradicted the alchemists’ idea of transmuting base metals into gold.
With the appointment of Karl Wiebel, chemistry then became an independent discipline. He also set up a chemical laboratory, which was increasingly entrusted with new tasks. In 1878 this laboratory of the Akademisches Gymnasium was transformed into the independent Chemisches Staatslaboratorium. The Gymnasium itself was dissolved shortly afterwards.
In the early stages, chemists were all-rounders who worked in all fields of chemistry. At this time, the focus was not on independent research but rather on the provision of analytical services for the city authorities and courts.
In 1920 the discipline of physical chemistry was founded within the Chemisches Staatsinstitut with Max Volmer as extraordinary professor for physical chemistry (from 1920 to 1922). His successor Otto Stern developed physical chemistry in terms of content and organization. An institute for physical chemistry was founded, which belonged organizationally to the chemistry department although it was located in the state institute of physics, Physikalisches Staatsinstitut. He was also able to recruit famous assistants: Immanuel Estermann, Otto Robert Frisch, Robert Schnurmann and Friedrich Knauer. This phase was characterized by a great many groundbreaking achievements, and in 1943 Otto Stern was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the work he carried out in Hamburg. In 1933 the seizure of power by the National Socialists put an end to this research work. Stern, Estermann, Frisch and Schnurmann were expelled.
Today, the Institute of Physical Chemistry works closely with:
- Fraunhofer Center for Applied Nanotechnology (CAN)
- Interdisziplinäres Nanowissenschafts-Centrum Hamburg (interdisciplinary nanoscience center Hamburg, INCH)
- Eduard Job Foundation