About the Institute

The Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, in short FHI, is an international research place where scientists from all over the world investigate the basic principles underlying the chemical conversion of matter and energy at surfaces and interfaces. In particular interfaces with liquids represent an area of enormous relevance in science and applications that will gain importance in future research at FHI. For this sizeable “terra incognita” in interface science, new and novel suitable methodologies for studying liquid interfaces will be developed.

Research work is structured in departments that are headed by a director. In the Max Planck Society, directors become nominated for their scientific achievements in a newly emerging field and are equipped with competitive research funding to push their research forward. Their departments act independently, yet follow a common goal – the advancement of basic science. A board of co-equal directors forms the scientific administration of FHI.

The Name of the Institute

Fritz Haber's scientific achievements are undisputed - the synthesis of ammonia ("bread from the air") he discovered was crucial to alleviating world hunger. For this, Haber was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1918. His role in the development and use of chemical warfare agents during the First World War, on the other hand, must be disapproved. Yet after the National Socialists seized power in 1933, he was forced by their legislation to dismiss the Jewish employees of his institute. He refused to do so, resigned his office in protest and emigrated. In 1934, he died in exile on his way to Palestine. In view of Haber's scientific achievements and his exemplary fate, it was decided in 1953, on the initiative of Max von Laue, to name the institute after Fritz Haber. The naming of the institute, however, must not be understood as an unambigious honouring of Haber as a scientist, but also as a critical appreciation of an exemplary life in his time. It should be seen as an impulse for reflection and evaluation as well a reminder.

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