Most of my research activities are closely correlated with the development of innovative experimental instruments which have been applied successfully in many fields of plasma physics and ion chemistry. Examples include the first rf octopole ion guide, storage ion sources, ring electrode traps and - since 1992 - the temperature variable 22-pole ion trap. The list of my publications shows the wide range of applications of these tools in collision dynamics, ion spectroscopy, fundamental research, mass spectrometry, analytical chemistry and also in nanoparticle science. Unique results have been obtained, ranging from precise integral cross sections at low energies, high resolution differential cross sections for ion-molecule reactions, sensitive determination of rate coefficients for radiative association and cluster growth, to ion spectroscopy with an unprecedented sensitivity.
I started my undergraduate and graduate studies at the Albert Ludwigs ‑ Universität in Freiburg, Germany. My Diplom and PhD thesis work resulted in two machines, the first Guided Ion Beam apparatus and a new high resolution crossed ion beam - molecular beam apparatus, respectively. After postdoctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley, USA with Prof. Y. T. Lee I returned to Freiburg where, in 1989, I got my Habilitation, my Venia Legendi and the title Privatdozent (honor but no real position). In 1993 I got the offer of a full professor position (C4) at the Technische Universität Chemnitz (called for some time Karl Marx Stadt). Since 1994 I am chair of the Gasentladungs- und Ionenphysik. I had and have many active cooperations with international groups, especially also in France (I am recipient of the 1996 Gay Lussac- Alexander von Humbold Prize).
In the past six years (2000 - 2006) I was dean of the DFG Forschergruppe Laboratory Astrophysics which has contributed significantly to our understanding of the formation and destruction of inter- and circumstellar matter. Our present experimental activities include: (i) development of an ion source for ultracold (< 1 K) molecular ions (including bio-molecules) (ii) construction of the next generation ion trapping machine for astrochemistry (cooperation with M. Smith in Tucson) and (iii) construction of a nanoparticle mass spectrometer for very high temperatures. Selected scientific questions we intend to answer is the role of nuclear spin in the chemistry of dense interstellar clouds (or with other words "boson chemistry"), the structure of ions (e.g. C3+ or CH5+), astrochemically important reactions with H and D atoms, ion chemistry involving C and N of and the behavior of extremely hot carbonaceous structures (in a trap or in a environment of a star).