The Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (MPIK) is one out of 80 institutes and research establishments of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften (Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science), which has been founded in 1948 succeeding the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft and is committed to basic research.
The MPIK has been founded in 1958 under the leadership of Wolfgang Gentner. Its precursor was the Institute for Physics at the MPI for Medical Research led by Walther Bothe from 1934 to 1957. The initial scientific goals were basic research in nuclear physics and the application of nuclear-physics methods concerning questions in the physics and chemistry of the cosmos. Since 1966 the MPIK is led by a board of directors.
Today, the activities concentrate on the two interdisciplinary research fields: Astro particle Physics (Crossroads of Particle Physics and Astrophysics) and Quantum Dynamics (Many-Body Dynamics of Atoms and Molecules).
Presently, the institute consists of 5 divisions and additionally several further research groups and junior research groups. Scientific and technical departments as well as the administration support the researchers. The institute has about 400 employees, as well as many diploma students and scientific guests.
Scientists at the MPIK collaborate with other research groups in Europe and all over the world and are involved in numerous international collaborations, partly in a leading role. Particularly close connections to some large-scale facilities like GSI (Darmstadt), DESY (Hamburg), CERN (Geneva), INFN-LNGS (Assergi L‘Aquila), SLAC (Stanford) exist.
In the local region, the Institute cooperates closely with the University of Heidelberg, where the directors and further members of the Institute are teaching. Three International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) and a graduate school serve to foster young scientists.