Karsten Reuter Returns to the Fritz Haber Institute as New Director

March 02, 2020
Prof. Dr. Karsten Reuter is a new Director at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin. Reuter previously held the position of Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich and was Spokesperson for the „e-conversion“ Excellence Cluster, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The distinguished scientist will take over the Department of Theory on the 1st of March part-time. He will be at the FHI full-time from the 1st of August.

Karsten Reuter‘s research concerns energy conversion and storage in the context of renewable energy technologies. Processes such as the photovoltaic generation of electric power, the storage in batteries or the conversion into chemical energy carriers such as hydrogen and synthetic fuels are currently either not efficient enough, or require rare or toxic materials and catalysts. The theorist specifically investigates the limiting steps in these processes at surfaces and interfaces, for which he develops modern multiscale modelling and simulation techniques. With the help of these techniques (and supercomputers) he is able to bridge many orders of magnitude and study these processes from the detailed elementary molecular reactions up to entire reactors and fuel cells. „Prof. Reuter has distinguished himself through years of innovative and excellent research that is unparalleled both nationally and internationally. We are delighted to welcome him at our Institute and in the Max Planck Society,“ says Prof. Gerard Meijer, Managing Director of the FHI.

„The strong structural and compositional changes of the interfaces in operating energy converters pose an enormous challenge,“ explains Prof. Reuter. He does, however, see a lot of hitherto unforseen revolutionary potential in the rapid development of machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence. Together with his team he pioneers the interlinking of such techniques with classic modeling and simulation. The necessary methodical developments will be at the center of his department‘s research activities, thus complementing the work of those departments in the Fritz Haber Institute that focus on experimental research. „The Institute‘s infrastructure is imcomparable and the research staff is outstanding“, says Reuter, „it‘s the ideal environment for our work.“ As Reuter has already worked at the FHI in the past (1999-2009), he knows the Institute well and is glad to return. „I‘m pleased to become a Director in this Institute and help further its scientific advancement“.

Prof. Reuter studied Physics and gained his PhD at the University of Erlangen–Nuremberg, also carrying out theoretical surface science research in both Madrid and Milwaukee. He then spent time at the FHI and the FOM Institute in Amsterdam as a research fellow, after which he earned his habilitation at the Free University of Berlin in 2005. He then led an Independent Max Planck Research Group until he was appointed Full Professor at the Technical University of Munich in 2009, where he also took up work at the Catalysis Research Center (CRC). He most recently held visiting professorships at Stanford (2014), MIT (2018) and Imperial College London (2019). 

Karsten Reuter is a well-respected scientist who has received numerous academic awards and who is a leading expert in the modeling and simulation of catalytic processes. In addition to his research, the 49-year-old scientist also leads the working group “Bridging Length and Time Scales” within the European Psi-k Network. He is member of the executive committee of the „Solar Technologies go Hybrid“ initiative of the Bavarian Ministry of Science and Research, and chairman of the Surface Science Division within the German Physical Society.

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