Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung
The GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research GmbH (former Name: Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung) in the Wixhausen
Wixhausen is a village in southern Hesse, Germany. Covering an area of 23.247 km², in 2006 it had 5,772 inhabitants and 1,310 houses. It is considered the northernmost suburb of the district-free city of Darmstadt. Its main claim to fame is the GSI heavy-ion research laboratory located...

 suburb of Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

, Germany is a federally and state co-funded heavy ion
Heavy ion
Heavy ion refers to an ionized atom which is usually heavier than helium. Heavy-ion physics is devoted to the study of extremely hot nuclear matter and the collective effects appearing in such systems, differing from particle physics, which studies the interactions between elementary particles...

 research center. The current director of GSI is Horst Stöcker
Horst Stöcker
Horst Stöcker is a German theoretical physicist.Horst Stöcker studied physics at the J.W. Goethe-Universität at Frankfurt am Main, where he got his Dr. phil.nat...

 who succeeded Walter F. Henning in August 2007.

The laboratory performs basic and applied research in physics and related natural science disciplines. Main fields of study include plasma physics, atomic physics
Atomic physics
Atomic physics is the field of physics that studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and...

, nuclear structure and reactions
Nuclear physics
Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies the building blocks and interactions of atomic nuclei. The most commonly known applications of nuclear physics are nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons technology, but the research has provided application in many fields, including those...

 research, biophysics
Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of physical science to study biological systems. Studies included under the branches of biophysics span all levels of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems...

 and medical research. The lab is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

Primary research

The chief tool is the heavy ion accelerator
Particle accelerator
A particle accelerator is a device that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds and to contain them in well-defined beams. An ordinary CRT television set is a simple form of accelerator. There are two basic types: electrostatic and oscillating field accelerators.In...

 facility consisting of UNILAC, the Universal Linear Accelerator (energy of 2 - 11.4 MeV
MeV and meV are multiples and submultiples of the electron volt unit referring to 1,000,000 eV and 0.001 eV, respectively.Mev or MEV may refer to:In entertainment:* Musica Elettronica Viva, an Italian musical group...

 per nucleon
In physics, a nucleon is a collective name for two particles: the neutron and the proton. These are the two constituents of the atomic nucleus. Until the 1960s, the nucleons were thought to be elementary particles...

), SIS 18, the heavy-ion synchrotron (1 - 2 GeV
GEV or GeV may stand for:*GeV or gigaelectronvolt, a unit of energy equal to billion electron volts*GEV or Grid Enabled Vehicle that is fully or partially powered by the electric grid, see plug-in electric vehicle...

/u) and ESR, the experimental storage ring (0.5 - 1 GeV/u) and FRS. The UNILAC was commissioned in 1975, the SIS 18 and the ESR were added in 1990 boosting the ion acceleration from 10% of light speed to 90%.

Elements discovered at GSI: meitnerium
Meitnerium is a chemical element with the symbol Mt and atomic number 109. It is placed as the heaviest member of group 9 in the periodic table but a sufficiently stable isotope is not known at this time which would allow chemical experiments to confirm its position, unlike its lighter...

 (1982), hassium
Hassium is a synthetic element with the symbol Hs and atomic number 108. It is the heaviest member of the group 8 elements. The element was first observed in 1984...

 (1984), darmstadtium
Darmstadtium is a chemical element with the symbol Ds and atomic number 110. It is placed as the heaviest member of group 10, but no known isotope is sufficiently stable to allow chemical experiments to confirm its placing in that group...

 (1994), roentgenium
Roentgenium is a synthetic radioactive chemical element with the symbol Rg and atomic number 111. It is placed as the heaviest member of the group 11 elements, although a sufficiently stable isotope has not yet been produced in a sufficient amount that would confirm this position as a heavier...

 (1994), bohrium
Bohrium is a chemical element with the symbol Bh and atomic number 107 and is the heaviest member of group 7 .It is a synthetic element whose most stable known isotope, 270Bh, has a half-life of 61 seconds...

 (1996), and copernicium (1996).

Technological developments

Another important technology developed at the GSI is the use of heavy ion beams for cancer treatment (from 1997). Instead of using X-ray radiation, carbon ions are used to irradiate the patient. The technique allows tumors which are close to vital organs to be treated, which is not possible with X-rays. This is due to the fact that the Bragg peak
Bragg Peak
The Bragg peak is a pronounced peak on the Bragg curve which plots the energy loss of ionizing radiation during its travel through matter. For protons, α-rays, and other ion rays, the peak occurs immediately before the particles come to rest...

 of carbon ions is much sharper than the peak of X-ray photons. A facility based on this technology, called Heidelberger Ionenstrahl-Therapiezentrum (HIT), built at the University of Heidelberg Medical Center began treating patients in November 2009.

Other parts of the facility

  • A FRagment Separator (FRS)

  • An Experimental Storage Ring (ESR)

Future evolution

In the years to come, GSI will evolve to an international structure named FAIR for Facility for Antiprotons and Ions Research. The first beam is expected by 2013. Among the improvements, two new synchrotrons (with respective magnetic rigidity 100 and 300 Tm), a Super-FRS and several new rings among which one that can be used for antimatter research.

The creation of FAIR was co-signed on 7 November 2007 by 13 countries: Austria, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Russia, Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain and Poland. Representatives included Annette Schavan
Annette Schavan
' is a German politician . She has been the Federal Minister of Education and Research since November 22, 2005.From 1995-2005, she served as the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports of the German state of Baden-Württemberg...

, the German federal minister of science and Roland Koch
Roland Koch
Roland Koch is a German jurist and former conservative politician. He was Minister-President of Hesse from April 7, 1999, immediately becoming President of the Bundesrat, completing the term begun by his predecessor as Minister President, Hans Eichel, until his resignation on August 31, 2010...

, the prime minister of the state of Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...


See also

    The Grand Accélérateur National d’Ions Lourds , or Large Heavy Ion National Accelerator, is a French national nuclear physics research center in Caen. The facility consists primarily of two serialised synchrocyclotrons.- See also :Similar facilities:...

    is a large natural sciences research institute in Japan. Founded in 1917, it now has approximately 3000 scientists on seven campuses across Japan, the main one in Wako, just outside Tokyo...

  • JINR
  • CERN
    The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...

  • NSCL
    National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory
    National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory is located on the campus of Michigan State University and is the leading rare isotope research facility in the United States...

  • ISIS neutron source
    ISIS neutron source
    ISIS is a pulsed neutron and muon source. It is situated at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom and is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council...

External links

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