Catalysis Research for 70 Years...
For 70 years, the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis e.V. (LIKAT) in Rostock has been conducting catalysis research for the benefit of society. The institute was founded in 1952 as the first research institute in Europe dedicated exclusively to catalysis. Milestones of LIKAT research include the commercialization of the Isicom process* in 1986 as the world's second process for organometallic chiral catalysis. Today, LIKAT in Rostock is one of the largest publicly funded research institutes in its field in Europe and occupies a place at the interface of basic research and its applications. Following an extremely positive evaluation by the Science Council, the institute was admitted to the Leibniz Association on January 1, 2003. Since the merger of the Rostock Institute with the Institute for Applied Chemistry Berlin-Adlershof (ACA) in 2005 to form today's LIKAT, it has combined homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis research at the Rostock site under one roof. Since then, complementary current fields such as photocatalysis and electrocatalysis have been implemented at the institute.
*Isicom is a therapeutic agent for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. It is a combination compound of L-DOPA and a decarboxylase inhibitor (inhibits metabolization of L-DOPA to dopamine, which cannot pass the blood-brain barrier).[1, 2, 3] The compound was developed by Rüdiger Selke (1934 - 2021) and Horst Pracejus (1927 - 1987), former professor and head of the Institut for Catalysis in Rostock, a predecessor institute of today's LIKAT. Their work in the field of expertise of asymmetric catalysis was instrumental in the development of the manufacturing process of Isicom (1986), which was produced at VEB Isis-Chemie in Zwickau. The Isicom process is the world's second asymmetrically catalyzed process to be implemented on an industrial scale. For the first industrial application of enantiosectively catalyzed hydrogenation to produce L-dopa for the Monsanto corporation, William S. Knowles was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001.  Entry for Carbidopa. In: Römpp Online. Georg Thieme Verlag, abgerufen am 10. November 2014.  L-Dopa - DocCheck Flexikon (Accessed on 10.02.2023)  Levodopa - Anwendung, Wirkung, Nebenwirkungen | Gelbe Liste (gelbe-liste.de) (Accessed on 10.02.2023)  Rüdiger Selke The other L-Dopa process, in Hans-Ulrich Blaser, Elke Schmidt (Herausgeber) Asymmetric catalysis on industrial scale, Wiley-VCH, 2004. Chemiker von A – Z. Eine biographisch-lexikalische Übersicht über die Chemie und ihre bedeutendsten Vertreter in Ostdeutschland, Herausgeber: Chemieverbände Nordost, Berlin, 2006, 2. Auflage, S. 72–73.  Timeline Horst Pracejus (histomania.com)
The Leibniz Institute for Catalysis (LIKAT) and its predecessor institutions have been dedicated to researching the holistic phenomenon of catalysis for 70 years.
It began with research efforts to produce artificial butter in the post-war period to secure the food supply for the population. Today, LIKAT in Rostock is one of the largest publicly funded research institutes in its field in Europe and occupies a place at the interface of basic research and its applications.
In 1952, the Institute for Catalysis Research in Rostock was founded, the first research institute in Europe dedicated exclusively to catalysis.
In 1959, the institute was split up.
Homogeneous catalysis remained in Rostock and formed the Institute for Organic Catalysis Research (IfOK), later part of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR (AdW).
Researchers in heterogeneous catalysis moved to Berlin and established the Institute for Inorganic Catalysis Research, later part of the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the German Academy of Sciences at Berlin Research Association (DAW, from 1972 AdW).
After the eavluation of the academy institutes in 1991, catalysis research was continued in Berlin in the Center for Heterogeneous Catalysis, which was integrated into the Institute for Applied Chemistry Berlin-Adlershof (ACA) founded in 1994.
The Rostock Catalysis Institute IfOK became a state research institute of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern after the closure of the AdW.
1992 - 1997, the Max Planck Society contributed significantly to the stabilization and modernization of the institution by establishing the working groups "Complex Catalysis" and "Asymmetric Catalysis".
Prof. Matthias Beller has headed the institute since mid-1998. Following an extremely positive evaluation of the research work by the Science Council, IfOK's admission to the Leibniz Association on January 1, 2003 was an expression of its successful development.
After almost 50 years, the two catalysis institutes IfOK and ACA merged and formed the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis in Rostock (LIKAT Rostock). On December 6, 2005, LIKAT Rostock was registered at the Rostock District Court and the merger of IfOK and ACA became legally effective (retroactively from July 1, 2005).
The institute has undergone many changes since it was founded by Langenbeck and Rienäcker in 1952. However, the main claim of the two founders still exists today: to transfer the results of basic research to chemical products or processes with application relevance.
Prof. Dr. Günther Rienäcker and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Langenbeck were the founding fathers of LIKAT. Their lives are a mirror of German history - including its dark times of dictatorship and oppression. They show: Science is not an ivory tower of self-sufficient scientific activity. Scientists bear responsibility for society. LIKAT is committed to this responsibility, which also includes dealing openly and transparently with its own past.
On behalf of LIKAT, the historian Dr. Florian Detjens has prepared a report.
The report and a summary are available here (currently only) in German.
- Zusammenfassung zum Bericht zur NS-Vergangenheit von Prof. Dr. Günther Rienäcker und Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Langenbeck
- Bericht zur NS-Vergangenheit von Prof. Dr. Günther Rienäcker und Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Langenbeck