Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry in Mainz

Research at Max Planck Institute for Chemistry (MPIC) aims for an integral understanding of chemical processes in the Earth’s system, particularly in the atmosphere and biosphere. Investigations address a wide range of interactions between air, water, soil, life, and climate in the course of Earth’s history, including today’s human-driven epoch, the Anthropocene.

The MPIC is one of the two oldest institutes of the Max Planck Society. It was founded in 1912 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin and was relocated to Mainz in 1949. Particularly well-known scientists in the Institute’s history are Nobel laureates Richard Willstätter, Otto Hahn, and Paul Crutzen.

Currently, the institute employs some 300 staff in four departments, with additional research groups. Scientists conduct laboratory experiments, collect samples, and record measurement data during field campaigns utilising airplanes, ships, and vehicles. The practical work is complemented with mathematical models that simulate chemical, physical, and biological processes on a molecular to global scale. One of the major goals from this is to find out how air pollution, including reactive trace gases and aerosols, affects the atmosphere, biosphere, climate, and public health.

The Green Talents will primarily focus on the departments of Biogeochemistry and Multiphase Chemistry, learning about “Aerosols and Climate” as well as “Air Quality and Health” during their visit at MPIC.

The Biogeochemistry Department addresses the exchange and interactions of trace gases and aerosols between the biosphere and atmosphere. These processes are studied by laboratory investigations, field measurements, and numerical models. The research topics include: exchange of chemically and climatically important trace gases between the soil/vegetation system and the atmosphere, formation of aerosol particles and their effects on the climate, impact of vegetation fires on ecology and atmospheric pollution, and the changing global cycles of trace elements. A special focus of this investigation is the Amazon region.

On the other hand, the Multiphase Chemistry Department deals with chemical reactions, transport processes, and transformations between solids, liquids, and gases. These processes are important for Earth system science and climate research, as well as for life and health sciences. The focus of the department is on studying biological and organic aerosols, aerosol-cloud interactions, and atmosphere-surface exchange processes. Concerning life and health sciences, they investigate how protein macromolecules are modified by air pollutants and how this affects allergic reactions and diseases. The department tries to elucidate the course of multiphase processes at the molecular level, along with their impact on the macroscopic and global scale.