Catalysis Research for 70 Years...

The Leibniz Institute for Catalysis (LIKAT) and its predecessor institutions have been dedicated to catalysis research for 70 years. It began with research efforts to produce artificial butter in the post-war period to secure society's food supply. 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 German Academy of Sciences in Berlin (AdW).

Researchers in heterogeneous catalysis moved to Berlin and established the Institute for Inorganic Catalysis Research, which became part of the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the DAW Research Foundation. After the academy institutes were evaluated in 1991, catalysis research was continued in the Center for Heterogeneous Catalysis, which was then 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. From 1992 to 1997, the Max Planck Society contributed significantly to the stabilization and modernization of the institute by establishing the working groups "Complex Catalysis" and "Asymmetric Catalysis". Since mid-1998, Prof. Matthias Beller has headed the institute. After an extremely positive evaluation of the research work by the Science Council, the admission of IfOK 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 06, 2005, LIKAT Rostock was registered at the Rostock District Court and the merger of IfOK and ACA became legally effective (retroactively from July 01, 2005).

The institute has undergone many changes since its foundation 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.


Report on the Nazi Past by Prof. Dr Günther Rienäcker and Prof. Dr Wolfgang Langenbeck

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.