Institute profile

About us

At the Institute of Nuclear Physics, more than 150 staff members pursue the goal of fundamentally understanding the properties of hadrons - particles such as the proton or neutron as components of the atomic nucleus - and their interactions. The institute is headed by a managing director from the group of 14 professors together with a deputy, who are elected in rotation every three years.

The most important tool for our research is the electron accelerator MAMI, which we have reliably operated and further developed since the 1980s. MAMI is structurally unique worldwide and provides us with high-precision electrons at moderate beam energies, with which we can study the structure of atomic nuclei, their constituents, and their interactions. These investigations contribute to deciphering the fundamental structure of matter and the inner workings of the universe, and to putting common models - such as the Standard Model of particle physics - to the test.

Photo: Alexander Sell / JGU

For this purpose, our scientists of the experimental working groups are currently organized in two collaborations and operate the two experiments A1 and A2, with which either electron or photon scattering experiments can be performed with very high precision. Finally, the interpretation of the measured data can be done by collaborating with the theoretical research groups, which develop high precision models of hadrons and their interactions by both analytical and numerical methods. In addition, we operate an experiment in the X1 collaboration at MAMI to explore novel brilliant radiation sources and their potential applications.

An essential prerequisite for the further development and operation of the experiments and the accelerator is a diverse and flexible technical infrastructure. For this reason, we have been operating our own workshops for precision mechanics, vacuum technology and accelerator technologies as well as an electronics laboratory at the Institute of Nuclear Physics for many years. In addition, we maintain an IT infrastructure specifically adapted to the requirements of the experiments and the simulations from the theory working groups.

Due to our broad, complementary experimental and theoretical capabilities, as well as the high precision of our results, we can regularly achieve success in the competition for funding - such as in Collaborative Research Centers (SFBs), DFG Research Groups or EU-funded cooperation projects. Our research topics also provide a substantial contribution to the Excellence Cluster PRISMA+, which is funded by the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments. As part of PRISMA+, we are currently building an additional accelerator - MESA ("Mainz Energy-Recovering Superconducting Accelerator") - on the premises of the Institute of Nuclear Physics. This accelerator, which is based on the concept of energy recovery, will together with the new experiments MAGIX and P2 provide the basis for future high-precision experiments. But also outside of Mainz, our various research groups participate in further large-scale experiments worldwide, e.g. in the framework of BMBF-funded collaborative research projects, by among others developing detectors or evaluating measurement data with special algorithms. In addition, we have a close connection to the neighboring Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM) - an institutional cooperation of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt.

In addition to our research, the qualification of young scientists and technicians is also an important concern for us. Therefore, the Institute of Nuclear Physics participates in several graduate schools and offers corresponding in-depth lectures, e.g. on hadron, detector and accelerator physics, as part of the teaching program at JGU. In addition, students can participate in our research at an early stage as operators at MAMI, as research assistants, or for their final thesis. In our workshops, we also train young employees, e.g. as precision mechanics or as electronics technicians for energy and building technology. For many years, we further have been offering school classes and the general public guided tours of MAMI and its experiments.