Research network „MaxWater“ founded to investigate water

Max Planck institutes join forces to explore the properties of water

January 25, 2019

Water plays a major role in biological, technical and climatic events on our planet. Research groups from various disciplines have now joined forces in the newly founded research network "MaxWater" between different Max Planck Institutes and selected external partners to study the molecular properties of water across different disciplines. The network will receive funding from the Max Planck Society of a total of 3,6 million euro for the next years.

The research network “Maxwater” connects different Max Planck institutes which investigate water on a molecular level.

Water plays an important role in diverse disciplines. In biology it is called the "elixir of life", in chemistry it is a unique solvent. In meteorology, understanding the molecular properties of water is essential to describe the formation of clouds. Despite the many areas in which water plays a role, the exact physical and chemical processes involved in the interaction of water molecules are still the subject of current research. Recently an interdisciplinary research team headed by Prof. Mischa Bonn (Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research) revealed, for example, the exact processes why ice is slippery.

To study water across disciplines, the research network "MaxWater" has recently been founded within the Max Planck Society. The network uses the experimental possibilities and expertise of different institutes to develop a cross-disciplinary molecular understanding of water. Such understanding is vital to enable new technologies in, for example, water cleaning, desalination and reliable climate models.

The working group of Prof. Mischa Bonn of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research participates with a focus on spectroscopic measurements of specifically interfacial water molecules, with techniques that allow studying ultrafast processes occurring on a time scale of one-millionth of a billionth of a second. At the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry within the department of Prof. Jos Lelieveld, research revolves around the chemical processes taking place in the earth's atmosphere, while at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in the department of Prof. Peter Fratzl, water in biological materials is a central theme. The Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin will be involved with the groups around Prof. Martin Wolf and Prof. Gerard Meijer with the spectroscopic investigation of water surfaces. On the theoretical side, the network is supported by the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics, which will carry out computer simulation at the molecular level. External partners include Prof. Roland Netz (FU Berlin), Prof. Peter Hamm (Uni Zurich), Prof. Anders Nilsson (Uni Stockholm) and Prof. Sander Woutersen (Uni Amsterdam).

"We are proud to set up MaxWater: a truly interdisciplinary research network to study some of the essential issues around water," said Mischa Bonn at the launch of the network on October 10th.

Two successful follow-up meetings with different sub-groups of MaxWater have already ensued.The project is funded by the Max Planck Society and will be evaluated in three years, after which an extension and/or enlargement is possible. Funding is provided for postdoctoral positions and scientific exchange, funds for the research itself are provided by the institutes.

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