Martin Beye is researching on catalysts working against the climate change

“In the past, we developed many new and powerful techniques with x-ray radiation. The time is ripe now to use them for something important”, says Martin Beye. Climate change is the most important topic to be addressed in the world for the coming decades. Martin commits to make his contribution working at Stockholm University, after his start at Fysikum in September 2023. “At Stockholm University, there is a unique environment, knowledge and infrastructure and wonderful colleagues – all that is required to actually make an impact."

Professor Martin Beye. Photo: Gunilla Häggström
Professor Martin Beye. Photo: Gunilla Häggström

Martin Beye was born 1981 in Salzgitter, an independent city in southeast Lower Saxony, Germany.

His major topics in school were mathematics and physics, but it took him some time to find his mission. At first, he was planning to work as an engineer and did an internship of several months. Later, he was also thinking of becoming a teacher.

In the end, Martin began to study physics in 2002 at the University of Hamburg, where his first teacher was Professor Wurth, a figure well-known in the x-ray spectroscopy community. Wurth motivated Martin to enter the field and after an internship in the research group, Martin obtained his diploma degree with distinction in 2007. Within the framework of a DESY scholarship, he graduated at the free-electron laser FLASH and earned his doctoral degree in 2010 from the University of Hamburg.

Then he moved on to Berlin, from where he was sent to Stanford to collaborate with Anders Nilsson’s research group at Stanford. During the following 5 years he divided his time between Berlin and Stanford using x-ray lasers to study catalytic reactions.

In 2016, Martin moved back to Hamburg as a “Helmholtz Young Research Group Leader” to explore how x-ray lasers can also be used more like “ordinary” lasers. “The pulses from free-electron lasers have a lot in common with optical laser pulses. Optical lasers have revolutionized how we can study physical and chemical processes. If you can do the same with x-rays, this will bring many new possibilities, especially to study catalytic reactions", says Martin Beye, “We funded a network of scientists to bring this research quickly forward and we just received EU funding to support our mission.”

In 2019, Martin became the scientific head of FLASH, the soft x-ray free-electron laser facility at DESY in Hamburg. This year he got married and started his employment at Fysikum. He and his wife live now in Stockholm, close to the AlbaNova University Center.

“In our catalyst research, we can see how molecules sit on the active surface and how they change to form new bonds – the very essence of chemistry. With our studies, we can make a movie how reactions occur. This provides important recipes to improve catalysts. We will use our connections to industry in order to make an impact on large processes against the climate change. The chemical industry needs to change and use for example electrocatalysis in fuel cells and photocatalysis for converting sunlight into fuels for a sustainable future. We have a lot of collaborations with other researchers and universities. Some of our work will be done locally in Stockholm, a lot will also happen elsewhere, like in Hamburg and Stanford. We will use the best x-ray sources around the world, like also the MAX IV Laboratory for x-ray research in Lund”, says Martin Beye.


More information

Progress and prospects in nonlinear extreme-ultraviolet and X-ray optics and spectroscopy – Nature Review Physics
The WavemiX network receives funding from COST European funding agency.
Electron population dynamics in resonant non-linear x-ray
absorption in nickel at a free-electron laser
- Structural Dynamics
Non-linear soft x-ray methods on solids with MUSIX—the multi-dimensional spectroscopy and inelastic x-ray scattering endstation - IOP Science
Catalysis in real time using X-ray lasers - Science Direct
The Association of the Friends and Sponsors of DESY presents PhD thesis award 2011 - Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY