27 October 1999

New Kirchhoff Institute of Physics at the University of Heidelberg

Joining forces on the verge of the new millennium – On 2 November the Institutes of Applied Physics and High Energy Physics amalgamate to form the Kirchhoff Institute – New prospects for research and teaching

On 2 November 1999 the Institutes of Applied Physics and High Energy Physics of the University of Heidelberg will merge to form the new Kirchhoff Institute of Physics. The Institute will serve research, teaching and study in physics and informatics. The emphasis will be on applications and interdisciplinary concerns.

The Kirchhoff Institute pools the resources of four chairs of physics – those for solid state physics (Professor Siegfried Hunklinger), experimental particle physics (Professor Karlheinz Meier), medical physics (Professor Josef Bille and Professor Karlheinz Meier) and hardware informatics (Professor Volker Lindenstruth) – with those of the Microelectronics (ASIC) Lab.

The motives behind the foundation of the new Institute were the desire for interdisciplinary research porojects and the prospects of more efficient resource management. The fact that the Institute is called after Gustav Robert Kirchhoff, the most prominent 19th century physicist working in Heidelberg, is only initially surprising. Kirchhoff's lasting achievements both in experimental and theoretical physics derived not least from his interdisciplinary approach (e.g. spectrum analysis). He reformed the physics curriculum at university level, established a new form of presentation for research findings and sought and maintained close contact not only with colleagues from other branches of science but also with students and industrialists.

The new Kirchhoff Institute will continue in this tradition. Joint research programmes in the field of microelectronics, medical physics and laser physics were already under way before the new Institute had neared completion. Other innovations include, at the teaching level, an overhaul of the practicals for advanced students, the establishment of a hardware practical and the use of multimedia in the basic stage of the physics course. Cooperation with other research institutions and industrial partners notably in the field of sensor physics have long been successfully launched.

Symbolically, the celebration to mark the establishment of the new Institute will follow immediately after the laying of the foundation stone for the first stage of construction of the new physics building for the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Heidelberg. After years of being scattered all over town, the physics departments will at last have a centre where research and teaching, laboratories and workshops, scientists and students are all accommodated under one roof.

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
michael.schwarz@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de


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