News overview


Newsletter PS-Park 'n' Science, 5th edition, Dec 2010

English text version of the Park'n'Science newsletter

Table of Contents
An alliance for more efficiency
Saving electricity and enhancing freedom of design
Heating offices with the earth's temperature
Casting young energy crops
Park ‘n’ Life


New Energies at the Science Park

New Energies at the Science ParkBe honest - have you already replaced the old fairy lights for the Christmas tree with a modern energy-efficient LED chain? At the very latest, the EU regulation on light bulbs has made it clear that a comprehensive energy saving plan must take into account even the smallest contributions in order to achieve the potential savings of 20% in present energy consumption through intelligent measures. To produce the remaining 80% of current energy demand in a sustainable way also requires a lot of detailed work in research and development, not to mention issues of electricity storage and transmission. Power supply based on renewable energies must make optimal use of all existent resources energy mix and efficiency.

The Science Year of Energy which highlighted these issues is coming to an end. On this occasion, PS addressed the question of whether the subject of energy also plays a role at the Potsdam-Golm Science Park. Examples involving the keyword "energy mix" as well as basic optimization and detailed development were quickly found. See for yourself in this edition which offers a number of energy-related activities at the Potsdam-Golm Science Park: From heat production through geothermal energy, combined heat / power generation and energy crop cultivation to new light sources comprising OLEDs, impressive approaches in various stages of implementation are presented. In addition, an interdisciplinary project on solar cells combines the Science Park's skills with those of the wider research community.

Whether by candlelight or under an energy saving lamp, enjoy a relaxed holiday season and have a very happy 2011, which will be the Science Year of Health Research.

Have lots of fun reading!
Sincerely, Barbara Buller

An alliance for more efficiency

Interdisciplinary solar cell research at the Potsdam-Golm Science Park.

The production of efficient solar cells requires properly defined environmental conditions. Here, a doctoral student from Prof. Neher's group at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy works in a nitrogen-filled
The new solar cells are coated in an absence of air and moisture. The production of efficient solar cells requires properly defined environmental conditions. Here, a doctoral student from Prof. Neher's group at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy works in a nitrogen-filled glove box.
(Photo: Dr. Frank Jaiser)

Solar energy is becoming increasingly important as fossil fuel reserves dwindle. Besides increasing the energy efficiency of finished products, current research focuses on concepts for reducing energy and material consumption in the manufacture of solar cells. Of great interest here are thin-film cells based on organic semiconductors. Due to the very high absorption coefficient of the conjugated organic compounds used, incident sunlight is absorbed within a layer just a few hundred nanometres thick. Organic compounds also have a very low density of 1 g/cm3 (compared with conventional semiconductors such as silicon and germanium). A quantity of just one gram is therefore sufficient to completely cover an area of five square meters with a photo-active organic semiconductor. Against this background, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) have launched programs in recent years worth millions of euros for promoting research on organic solar cells.

Scientists at the Golm research site are involved in many aspects of these programs. The aim of the BMBF research alliance SOHyb (self-organization in organic hybrid solar cells) is to create a common concept of a hybrid organic solar cell by merging together three different approaches to converting solar energy into electrical energy. The related activities will be carried out mainly in Potsdam-Golm at the University of Potsdam's Institute of Physics and Astronomy (Prof. Dieter Neher), at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (Dr. Silvia Janietz) and the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces (Prof. Helmuth Möhwald), in close cooperation with a group led by Dr. Konstantinos Fostiropoulos at the Berlin Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Energy, and a group led by Prof. Bernd Smarsly at the University of Giessen.

Furthermore, Prof. Neher’s group is involved in a joint project titled Developing PVcomB (development of the Berlin competence centre for thin films and nanotechnology in photovoltaics). The project will be sponsored with more than €12 million for a period of five years as part of the BMBF's initiative titled "Advanced Research and Innovation in the New German States". Scientists at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy in Potsdam have set an ambitious goal of combining organic semiconductors with amorphous silicon to develop novel hybrid cells significantly surpassing the efficiency of traditional thin-film cells.

What both joint projects have in common is that they break the boundaries between conventional methods of producing organic and inorganic solar cells in order to identify new ways of making solar cells more efficient. The researchers’ goals can only be attained through close collaboration between groups with different expertise in the physics and chemistry of organic and inorganic semiconductors. The Potsdam-Berlin area, with its multitude of university and non-university groups, offers an ideal setting for this purpose.

Prof. Dr. Dieter Neher, Professor for Soft Matter Physics, Institute for Physics and Astronomy, University of Potsdam

Saving electricity and enhancing freedom of design

OLEDs - the new light sources - are not only highly energy efficient but also extremely versatile in use.

OLEDs - the new light sources
(Photo: Fraunhofer AIP)

In addition to material properties such as strength and bio-degradability, the electro-optical properties of plastics are increasingly the focus of attention. If an electrical voltage is applied to certain organic materials, so they glow in defined colours. Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) are presently dealing with such OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). PS spoke to Dr. Armin Wedel, head of the Department for Functional Polymer Systems.

PS: Which characteristics make OLEDs so interesting?
A. Wedel: Conventional light sources are restricted to a punctiform design. An OLED's organic light-emitting layer is spread out. If this is done on a flexible film, the OLED can be shaped. We apply the layers using devices such as inkjet printers which are more cost-effective than conventional spin coating. OLEDs can also be transparent.

PS: Are there already some first applications for OLEDs?
A. Wedel: OLED displays are already found in mobile phones, cameras, and occasionally in cars, TVs and designer lamps. We are currently working on a combination of OLEDs with other functional elements such as keyboards, especially for shapeable displays. Flexible OLEDs can revolutionize display and lighting applications. Conceivable examples include roll-up monitors and glowing wallpaper or textiles.

PS: So these displays have not yet reached the size of common LCD units. Which issues remain to be resolved to enable a use of OLEDs on a larger scale?
A. Wedel: Our goal is not to replace LCDs. We pursue novel display and lighting concepts, in whose case some problems still need to be solved. These include the size of OLEDs. We have nearly met one of the prerequisites here: An ability to produce organic materials covering the entire colour spectrum. We improve long-term stability by optimally encapsulating materials extremely sensitive to air and moisture. Traditionally, this has been achieved between two glass plates. To make OLEDs flexible, we developed an ultra-barrier film as part of Fraunhofer's POLO alliance for polymer surfaces. The glue connecting the films must not react with the component's constituents, outgas or shrink, must be applicable in thin layers, and remain elastic after hardening.

PS: How do OLEDs contribute to saving energy?
A. Wedel: Unlike LCDs, an OLED requires no backlighting, hence saving significant amounts of energy. New materials and assembly technologies presently being developed promise substantial energy savings compared with incandescent lamps, fluorescent lamps and LEDs. Already today, it is possible to achieve energy efficiencies far higher than those of incandescent lamps, and rivalling those of fluorescent lamps.

PS: Which other fields of application do you consider promising?
A. Wedel: We are especially interested in combining OLEDs with other functional elements. I have already mentioned illuminated keyboards as one example. In future, OLEDs will also be used as security features on documents and smart cards. An integration of OLEDs into textiles is also very interesting: Once it finally becomes possible to light up textiles, the only limit left will be imagination.

PS: Thank you very much for your time!As he had completed chemistry as a special subject for the Abitur, Marco didn’t find the theoretical requirements in the vocational school difficult. However, Marlies Walter, training supervisor at IAP, stresses that passing the Abitur exam is not a prerequisite for obtaining a training place at IAP. Students who leave secondary school (Realschule) with good to very good grades in natural sciences have equally good chances. Once the practical foundations have been mastered at the vocational training centre in Adlershof for the first 10 months of training and the work groups have been integrated into the institute, the apprentices are already able to take on tasks within the projects; the scientists are then willing contacts for any questions about the demanding theoretical subject matter to be learnt.

Heating offices with the earth's temperature

Heating offices with the earth's temperature
(Photo: NEK)

Eleven years ago, the Max Planck Society in Brandenburg inaugurated three institutes at what is now the country's largest scientific centre, the Potsdam-Golm Science Park: The Max Planck Institutes of Colloids and Interfaces, Molecular Plant Physiology and for Gravitational Physics. One objective was clear from the start: Their power supply had to be innovative, sustainable and of a high capacity. High-performance technologies were needed to meet different requirements such as those concerning highly sensitive laboratory equipment.

The renewable energies initially focused on by the developers were soon discarded again. Examined next were the potentials of shallow geothermal energy, i.e. that occurring in the uppermost thousand meters of the earth's surface. A drilling test provided the following results: Ground water conditions distinguished by slow flow rates prove ideal for using the earth as a geothermal store. At high flow rates, heat is removed too quickly. The aim was to obtain the earth's heat for heating, and simultaneously store cold for usage in summer. The solution comprised a geothermal probe field with a heat pump and passive cooling.

The concept

Energy is today supplied by multiple, interacting components: Two co-generation power plants, a heat pump and a geothermal probe field for supplying heat; a geothermal probe, free-cooling and refrigeration machines for producing cold water. A boiler is available for handling peak loads. A cogeneration unit's high efficiency is attributable to the simultaneous production of heat and electrical energy. Rather than going waste, surplus heat energy released by the cogeneration plants in summer is "reused" in a climate friendly manner. An absorption refrigeration machine uses this energy to generate cold.

Much of the energy required for heating the indoor ventilation and air-conditioning systems in winter is obtained by the heat pump from the geothermal probe field. This creates a local heat sink or cold zone in the earth, allowing process plants to be cooled in the summer months. The waste heat arising during cooling of large equipment forms a high-temperature zone in the earth reservoir, thereby resulting in warming here. This higher temperature level enables effective operation of the heat pump in the winter months. The ventilation systems are cooled by free-cooling via outdoor air, and by refrigeration machines in summer.

Climate protection

In the meantime, depending on the annual temperature curve, about 50% of the heat energy needed for the ventilation and air-conditioning systems can be obtained from the underground reservoir. More than 60% of the process cooling capacity is obtained via the geothermal probe field and free-cooling. Compared with conventional solutions, use of the geothermal probe field reduces CO2 emissions by several thousand tons a year.

Facts and figures

The geothermal probe field covers an area of approximately 70 m x 50 m in which 160 bores each 100 metres deep are installed. Each bore contains two conduction loops comprising polyethylene. A water-glycol mixture serving as the transfer medium flows through the probes, the pressure conditions being monitored continuously in this process. On occurrence of an impermissibly high differential pressure, the water supply to the probe field is interrupted. In recent years, an average of 1300 MWh of energy have been generated annually by the probe field.

Heiko Jung, Head of Campus Engineering and Operations

Casting young energy crops

New possibilities of early identifying potentials for biomass production in energy crops.

Biomass differences in coeval Arabidopsis thaliana lines.
Biomass differences in coeval Arabidopsis thaliana lines.
(Photo: MPI-MP)

Rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and the decrease in fossil fuel reserves such as oil, natural gas and coal make it imperative to develop alternative energy sources like wind, geothermal and solar energy.

Plants use sunlight to form high-energy organic materials from carbon dioxide, and could provide another source of alternative energy. This, however, requires energy crops that grow rapidly and generate a large biomass. To breed such energy crops, it is important to find indicators associated with biomass, which will allow reliable predictions of biomass while the plants are still young. This aspect is particularly important in the case of perennial cultures.

In cooperation with a number of partners, The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology has achieved initial success in this area. In various projects, researchers explored how plant growth is regulated. They reasoned that, as growth represents an integrated output of metabolic activity, there should be a relationship between the levels of metabolites in a plant and its rate of growth and final biomass.

To test this idea, they first analysed biomass and over 100 metabolites in a large number of genetically well-characterized lines of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. They found a highly significant correlation between biomass and a specific combination of metabolites, showing that the metabolic composition can be used as a biomarker for biomass.

Another project focused on the starch content instead of the entire range of metabolites. Some of the carbon absorbed during daytime photosynthesis is stored as starch which ensures continued plant growth during the night when no photosynthesis is possible. This project, too, examined variants of Arabidopsis thaliana differing greatly in their biomass. The surprising outcome of this work was that plants with the largest biomass had the lowest starch content in their leaves. Apparently, the plants showing better growth were capable of integrating the available carbon into their metabolism more efficiently than their smaller counterparts. Further studies showed that biomass is influenced by specific differences in the genetic sequence of two genes related to the carbohydrate status of plants.

These experimental approaches show that it is possible to find metabolic indicators for biomass in Arabidopsis thaliana. The implication is that it may be possible to use measurements of metabolites to identify plants which produce more biomass than others, and to prioritise them for further plant breeding. Additional investigations will show whether the detected indicators are universal, or whether they differ from one plant species to another, and / or depend on environmental conditions. The institute's ongoing research on corn which is not yet published is addressing these issues.

The projects already open up new opportunities to enhance plant breeding and making it more effective.


Not only behind closed door …

Modern doctoral training at international level at the University of Potsdam

Modern doctoral training at international level at the University of Potsdam
Interdisciplinary dialogue and esteem shape the annual doctoral student symposia.
(Photo: Fritze)

The restructuring of doctoral training was on the agenda a few years ago at the University of Potsdam, because in the past many doctorates had taken too long to complete or were not completed at all. This was one of the reasons for the founding of the Potsdam Graduate School (PoGS) at the end of 2006 (photo: Fritze). Today, it is an important contact point for around 1,500 doctoral students. The establishment sees itself as an umbrella organisation for the 23 doctoral programmes currently on offer across all the faculties. The Graduate School offers membership to all PhD candidates, with the aim of improving conditions for them at the University of Potsdam through transparent processes and more intensive supervision and support. Nevertheless, the students’ capacity for independent academic study continues to be an important objective and the dissertation naturally remains the key element for the conferral of a doctorate. PoGS also aims to reinforce research activities on the site and to make it more attractive to young researchers from Germany and overseas.

The programmes on offer include the “Junior Teaching Professionals” and “International Teaching Professionals” projects that were created as part of the University of Potsdam concept for teaching excellence and which won the “Excellence in Teaching” competition held by the Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft (the German industry initiative promoting science and learning). They offer young researchers the opportunity to gain qualifications in the area of academic teaching while they are working towards their doctorate.
Right from the start of a professional scientific career, it is important to raise one’s profile in the area of teaching. The “Junior and International Teaching Professionals” initiatives are designed to introduce PhD candidates to a career as a university lecturer. There is also a “Senior Teaching Professionals” programme. Here, post-doctoral students and junior professors in all faculties of the University of Potsdam are given the opportunity to gain further credentials in the areas of strategic focusing, development and implementation of academic teaching. Participants in the programme are familiarised with the aims of the Bologna Process as part of their continued training in university didactics.

The activities of the PoGS include the one-day, interdisciplinary PhD symposium held annually (this year on 14 October) for PhD candidates at the University of Potsdam, as well as for non-university research institutions. The symposium acts as a forum for young scientists at which the PhD candidates get the chance to present their dissertation projects as talks or posters to an interdisciplinary audience of specialists and to discuss any questions concerning content or methodology. As well as the scientific discussions, young researchers also get opportunities to make contacts and network. be •

Heike Küchmeister
Tel.: 0331/977-1855

The state of Brandenburg awards two young scientist prizes to researchers at Potsdam.

The post-doctoral prize for humanities and the social sciences was awarded to Dr Markus Messling (34), a researcher in Romance studies at the University of Potsdam. Messling was awarded the 20,000 euro post-doctoral prize for humanities and the social sciences for the work of the “Philology and racism in the 19th century” Emmy Noether research group, which he leads. Together with three colleagues, he is investigating the “epistemological and ideological association of 19th century philology with racism and colonialism”.

Mike Neumann
(Photo: private)

He was awarded the 5,000 euro graduate award for his degree dissertation “Examination of the structure and chemical and thermal resistance of biogenic silicon dioxide”. Mike Neumann completed his Diplom in chemistry in less than nine semesters and with outstanding results. For the best degree completed in 2009/2010, he received the Jacob Jacobi prize awarded by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Potsdam. He is currently working as a doctoral student in the inorganic materials chemistry working group (Prof. Dr. Peter Strauch) at the University of Potsdam. He is also a deputy federal spokesperson for the JungChemikerForum der Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (young chemists forum of the German Chemical Society).

The University of Potsdam also congratulates Niko Hildebrand (35), a professor in nano-biophotonics at the University of Paris-Sud 11 since October 2010. He received the 20,000 euro post-doctoral prize in the area of natural sciences and engineering. Hildebrand was awarded a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Potsdam in 2007 (Prof. Dr. Hans-Gerd Löhmannsröben). He was then employed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research as a group leader in an EU project from 2008 to 2010.


Vocational training on the Science Park: ornamental gardener

ornamental gardener
(Photo: F. Huhn)

When strolling through large garden centres, every amateur gardener is struck by the wide and varied assortment of ornamental plants on offer. It is easy to forget that these plants are often grown in specialist production facilities with only a limited range. Only a few facilities offer a working environment in which a wide variety of plant types are grown and multiple horticultural methods are employed. Lydia Jachalke was therefore delighted when, after achieving solid results in her secondary school leaving certificate, she got an apprenticeship in ornamental gardening at the nursery of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology.

Now in her third year, she is dedicated to meeting the challenges to plant cultivation that are presented by the changing research fields – which makes for an interesting variety, in her opinion. She particularly appreciates the fact that the apprentices are given an increasing amount of independence each year. The project in the second year of apprenticeship is, for example, the apprenticeship bed, an approx. 25 m2 area of land that is designed and looked after by the apprentices under their own responsibility. In the third year of apprenticeship, the advanced apprentices cultivate and care for plants for the Komm ins Beet (come to the field) campaign and also organise their own work independently. The apprenticeship is rounded out with two work placements in sales or production facilities, plus lessons at the vocational school. The apprentices spend a total of 13 weeks a year, in blocks of two weeks at a time, at the vocational school with attached residential accommodation in Prignitz.

Seven young people have completed their training in ornamental gardening at the MPI-MP nursery since 2001, and all with good results. All have competed successfully in the professional skills competition. In 2009, they achieved 2nd place in the national championship and one of them was awarded the Max Planck Prize. After such varied training, many career opportunities present themselves to the apprentices. However, Lydia will continue with her studies for a while: she wants to complete a vocational baccalaureate and go to a university of applied sciences before becoming a vocational school teacher.

Max Planck Society Apprentice Award

René Genz
(Photo: MPIKG)

René Genz from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces is one of twenty winners of the 2010 apprenticeship award worth 750 euros awarded by the Max Planck Society. He was recognized for his excellent results during his apprenticeship. René Genz trained as an IT specialist with a focus on system integration. By creating scripts, the 27-year-old former apprentice played a significant role in automating, and therefore facilitating, the day-to-day workflows at the Institute: As part of his final project, René Genz combined the user account administration of the two operating systems Linux and Windows. Now that his apprenticeship is completed, his duties include looking after the network technology and administration, administering the Unix-based server, HPC clusters and the firewall.


Albert Maucher prize for Potsdam palaeoclimatologist

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Herzschuh
(Photo: private)

On 10 October 2010, the German Research Foundation (DFG) awarded the Albert Maucher prize to Prof. Dr. Ulrike Herzschuh for her outstanding geoscientific research. Ulrike Herzschuh is an assistant professor at the University of Potsdam and heads a research group at the Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. The geoscientist is carrying out research into the climate of prehistoric times in various parts of Asia, such as the Tibetan Plateau, China, Mongolia and Siberia, with the aid of among other things the plant and animal fossils found there, and isotope studies. The researcher also received the 10,000 euro prize for her manifold international collaborations and her outstanding list of publications. She has also successfully raised funds for and conducted her own projects and is involved in academic teaching and university self-administration.

The prize was donated by Munich geologist Albert Maucher, who himself received DFG funding at the start of his scientific career. The award also recognises unconventional approaches to research and research methods.

International award of the Royal Institution of Great Britain goes to young Potsdam scientist

Dr. Maria-Magdalena Titirici
(Photo: MPIKG)

Dr. Maria-Magdalena Titirici, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, has been awarded the renowned "15th Desty Award for Innovation in Separation Science". Titirici, a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, received the award for her work on the use of thermo-responsive polymers in reverse-phase chromatography. Reverse-phase chromatography (RPC) is one of the most frequently used separation techniques in laboratories today. In bioseparations, the use of organic solvents as mobile phases can cause denaturation of the analytes – which is where thermo-responsive stationary phases come into play. When there is a change in temperature, these switch from a hydrophilic to a hydrophobic state. In this way, they represent a real alternative to reverse-phase chromatography and can be used in pure aqueous environments.

The Desty Award, worth £1000, is awarded to young scientists for outstanding, innovative research work in the field of separation technology and chromatography. The prize is named after Professor Denis Desty (1921-1994), a pioneer in the field of analytical chemistry.

Max Planck director Ralph Bock elected to Leopoldina

Prof. Dr. Ralph Bock, director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) and head of the Organelle Biology, Biotechnology and Molecular Ecophysiology department has been elected as a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

The elected members are outstanding scientists who have distinguished themselves by demonstrating academic excellence.

The Leopoldina was founded in 1652 and is Germany’s oldest academy involved in natural sciences and medicine. In 2008, the Leopoldina was appointedGermanys National Academy of Sciences. Around 1,300 scientists from 30 countries are members of the Leopoldina. Central tasks of the National Academy of Sciences are to provide guidance on current scientific and science policy issues to policy makers, society and industry, to represent German scientists on international academy committees, to promote research collaberations, and last but not least, to support the education of young scientists, e.g. through the Leopoldina Fellowship Programme.

Ralph Bock heads the Organelle Biology, Biotechnology and Molecular Ecophysiology department at the MPI-MP since September 2004. His research focuses on the physiology and genetics of plant cell organelles, such as chloroplasts and mitochondria. These cell organelles could play a future role in the development and production of new therapeutic agents for treating diseases, among other things. He is also involved in research on photosynthesis and its genetic regulation.

Honorary doctorate for Potsdam Chemist

On 11 November 2010, Prof. Dr. Erich Kleinpeter of the University of Potsdam was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Szeged. In awarding the doctorate, the Hungarian university paid tribute to the scientist’s outstanding research achievements and extensive collaborative activities. The Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the Hungarian university and Prof. Dr. Erich Kleinpeter have worked in close cooperation for many years – work which has been funded more than once by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Joint research in the area of synthesis and structure elucidation of biologically active molecules with spectroscopic and theoretical methods has led to a variety of joint lectures, posters and publications in top international journals.

First Humboldt Professorship for the University of Potsdam

Psycholinguist Clahsen receives five million euro research prize.

On 11 November 2010, Prof. Dr. Erich Kleinpeter of the University of Potsdam was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Szeged. In awarding the doctorate, the Hungarian university paid tribute to the scientist’s outstanding research achievements and extensive collaborative activities. The Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the Hungarian university and Prof. Dr. Erich Kleinpeter have worked in close cooperation for many years – work which has been funded more than once by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Joint research in the area of synthesis and structure elucidation of biologically active molecules with spectroscopic and theoretical methods has led to a variety of joint lectures, posters and publications in top international journals.

Park ‘n’ Life

Full of energy –
Energy Day at the Potsdam-Golm Science Park

Energy Day at the Potsdam-Golm Science Park
(Photo: mpimp)

The Energy Day took place on 25 September 2010 as part of the “Future of Energy” year of science. Throughout Germany, companies, universities, research establishments, museums and public utilities invited the public to become involved in the topic of energy and to find out about the latest developments in the energy sector. On the Potsdam-Golm Science Park too, everything was about energy on the day. The Max Planck Institutes of Colloids and Interfaces and Molecular Plant Physiology, together with various partners, invited interested members of the public to talks, tours, experiments, interactive demonstrations and various participatory events, and showed them just how multifaceted energy research can be.

Be it plant muscles, solar cookers, fuel cells, short-rotation coppices, or biogas – energy is everywhere. The company Foxy LED (founded by the University of Potsdam’s Computer Engineering department) presented its model for modern, energy-saving LED street lighting. The MPI of Colloids and Interfaces explained how coal can be made from biomass, and the MPI of Molecular Plant Physiology showed that creating energy from plants is only practical if not too much energy has to be invested in cultivating those plants in the first place. In addition, the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering (ATB) asked: How eco-friendly is bio-energy in reality? Even the topic of nutrition, energy and health was covered: the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE) demonstrated with an “energy meter” how much fossil energy is used in the production of various foodstuffs, among other things. That a whole lot of energy – in the form of sound waves – is also what makes music was demonstrated tunefully by the Kammerakademie Potsdam orchestra. Curious visitors of every age were also able to make some noisy instruments out of garden hoses. In conjunction with pearls and the “energy and fun pass”, young explorers got the opportunity to attend three interactive stations and receive a science diploma. Umwelt-Mobil also demonstrated how it is possible to tap into the sun’s energy using solar cookers and fuel cells.

Overall, there was a great deal of interest and an excellent atmosphere, and the event was very well attended despite the drizzly weather. Many interesting conversations and discussions took place, and at the end of the event visitors and organisers alike were very pleased with the Energy Day.

Ursula Ross-Stitt/Katja Schulze

Building progress

the new day-care centre
(Photo: Lauterbach)

There is currently a great deal of activity on all the campus construction sites, and things are also moving at a fast pace on the site for the new day-care centre. The site is now winter-proof, so that even the early onset of winter cannot delay the work any further. It is anticipated that the first children will be welcomed to the centre on 1 April 2011. The campus will then be brightened up by 120 children of university staff and from the Golm area. There are still places available, particularly in the kindergarten section (3 years up). Applications should be made to the offices of Fröbel Potsdam gGmbH, Hebbelstraße 28.