MBI Staff Member – Personal info



Main Research Topics

  • Ultrafast chemical reaction dynamics in liquids and solutions including:
    - Hydrogen bond dynamics.
    - Bimolecular proton transfer, electron transfer, and proton-coupled electron transfer.
    - Conformational changes of molecular switches.
    - Structural dynamics of biomolecular systems.
  • Ultrafast structure resolving techniques probing:
    - Molecular vibrations.
    - Near edge x-ray absorption fine structure.


 52°25'52.0"N 13°31'34.6"E


Scientific Curriculum

  • Habilitation in experimental physics - through Department of Physics, Freie Universität Berlin (2007).
  • Head of Department C1 of the Max-Born-Institut für Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie (Since 2003).
  • Provisional Head of Department C1 of the Max-Born-Institut für Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie (2001-2003).
  • Project leader at the Max-Born-Institut für Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie (Since 1997).
  • Postdoctoral fellow at the Max-Born-Institut für Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie, Berlin, Germany (1995 - 1997).
  • Postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratoire d’Optique Appliquée-E.N.S.T.A.-École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France (1993 - 1995).
  • Ph.D. thesis at the Department of Physical Chemistry, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands (1988 - 1993).

Short biography

Erik T. J. Nibbering (born in 1965) studied chemistry at the Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) from 1983 to 1988, graduating in physical chemistry with a diploma thesis on multiple quantum NMR. He investigated femtosecond optical dephasing and solvation dynamics in liquids for his Ph. D. study with Prof. Dr. Douwe A. Wiersma and Prof. Dr. Koos Duppen at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (The Netherlands, 1988−1993). After a two-year stay at the Laboratoire d'Optique Appliqueé − E.N.S.T.A. − École Polytechnique (Palaiseau, France) with Prof. Dr. André Mysyrowicz, where he investigated nonlinear propagation phenomena of intense femtosecond laser pulses, he joined the Max Born Institut für Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie in Berlin, Germany, in 1995, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Thomas Elsaesser, becoming project leader in 1997 and department head in 2003. He acquired his Habilitation degree in experimental physics in 2007 at the Freie Universität Berlin. Major achievements in the first decade of the 21st century include femtosecond infrared spectroscopic studies on hydrogen bond dynamics, bimolecular aqueous proton transfer and bimolecular electron transfer, as well as trans/cis isomerization in chromophores of biosensor proteins and photochromic switches. Recent efforts focus on the elucidation of hydrogen bond structure of photoacid-base complexes, to be tackled with time-resolved infrared and soft-x-ray spectroscopies.

Representative Publications

Selected Milestone Works (1987-2005)

  • E. T. J. Nibbering, D. A. Wiersma and K. Duppen. Femtosecond non-Markovian optical dynamics in solution. Physical Review Letters 66 (19), 2464-2467 (1991). First demonstration of succesful application of Kubo's line shape theory on electronic dephasing of a dye molecule in liquid solution using both linear absorption spectra and nonlinear two pulse photon echo measurements.

  •  E. T. J. Nibbering, P. F. Curley, G. Grillon, B. S. Prade, M. A. Franco, F. Salin and A. Mysyrowicz. Conical emission from self-guided femtosecond pulses in air. Optics Letters 21 (1), 62-64 (1996). First paper exploring the origin of conical emission of femtosecond filaments in air.

  • M. Rini, B.-Z. Magnes, E. Pines and E. T. J. Nibbering. Real-time observation of bimodal proton transfer in acid-base pairs in water. Science 301 (5631), 349-352 (2003). First femtosecond infrared spectroscopic measurements of aqueous acid-base neutralization measurements, showing marked different behaviour of tightly bound and loosely bound complexes.

  • M. L. Cowan, B. D. Bruner, N. Huse, J. R. Dwyer, B. Chugh, E. T. J. Nibbering, T. Elsaesser and R. J. D. Miller. Ultrafast memory loss and energy redistribution in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O. Nature 434 (7030), 199-202 (2005). First 2D-IR experiment on neat liquid water, providing key insight into the major impact of the intermolecular couplings of nearby water molecules on the structural memory of the hydrogen bond network as imprinted in the O-H stretching mode.

  • O. F. Mohammed, D. Pines, J. Dreyer, E. Pines and E. T. J. Nibbering. Sequential proton transfer through water bridges in acid-base reactions. Science 310 (5745), 83-86 (2005). First time-resolved measurement of sequential von-Grotthuss hopping-type aqueous proton transport from acid to base molecules.

Selected Milestone Works (2006-2015)

  • O. F. Mohammed, K. Adamczyk, N. Banerji, J. Dreyer, B. Lang, E. T. J. Nibbering, and E. Vauthey. Direct femtosecond observation of tight and loose ion pairs in photoinduced bimolecular electron transfer. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 47, 9044-9048 (2008). First structural determination of tight electron donor-acceptor complexes using polarization-resolved ultrafast infrared spectroscopy, providing insight into the donor-acceptor interactions leading to photo-induced forward and backward electron transfer on subpicosecond time scales.

  • K. Adamczyk, M. Prémont-Schwarz, D. Pines, E. Pines and E. T. J. Nibbering. Real-time observation of carbonic acid formation in aqueous solution. Science 326, 1690-1694 (2009). First observation of carbonic acid in room-temperature aqueous conditions, as well as determination of its true acid dissociation constant under ambient conditions.

  • F. Messina, M. Prémont-Schwarz, O. Braem, D. Xiao, V. S. Batista, E. T. J. Nibbering and M. Chergui. Ultrafast solvent-assisted electronic level crossing in 1-naphthol. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 52, 6871–6875 (2013). First observation of electronic excited-state level inversion of the prototype photoacid 1-naphthol in a time-resolved experiment.

  • C. Greve, E. T. J. Nibbering and H. Fidder. Hydrogen bonding induced enhancement of Fermi resonances: A linear IR and nonlinear 2D-IR study of aniline-d5. J. Phys. Chem. B 117, 15843-15855 (2013). First full exploration, in a combined linear IR and nonlinear 2D-IR study, of the enhancement of the Fermi resonance effect between hydrogen stretching fundamental and bending overtone levels, as induced by hydrogen bonding interactions.

  • B. Psciuk, M. Prémont-Schwarz, B. Koeppe, S. Keinan, D. Xiao, E. T. J. Nibbering and V. S. Batista. Correlating photoacidity to hydrogen-bond structure by using the local O−H stretching probe in hydrogen-bonded complexes of aromatic alcohols. J. Phys. Chem. A 119 (20), 4800-4812 (2015). First study correlating O-H stretching mode frequency shifts of photoacid molecules with photoacidity properties and hydrogen bond structure.

Selected Milestone Works (2016-now)

  • M. Ekimova, W. Quevedo, M. Faubel, Ph. Wernet and E. T. J. Nibbering. A liquid flatjet system for solution phase soft-X-ray spectroscopy. Struct. Dyn. 2, 054301 (2015). First demonstration of a liquid flatjet system, formed by two impinging singlet microjets under vacuum conditions, as a versatile tool for solution phase soft-x-ray spectroscopy

  • F. Dahms, R. Costard, E. Pines, B. P. Fingerhut, E. T. J. Nibbering and T. Elsaesser. The hydrated excess proton in the Zundel cation H5O2+: The role of ultrafast solvent fluctuations. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 55, 10600–10605 (2016). First ultrafast infrared pump-probe study of the Zundel cation connecting O-H stretching and bending vibrational energy flow to the IR broadband manifold of the proton transfer coordinate with solvent-induced electric field fluctuations.

  • F. Dahms, B. P. Fingerhut, E. T. J. Nibbering, E. Pines and T. Elsaesser. Large-amplitude transfer motion of hydrated excess protons mapped by ultrafast 2D IR spectroscopy. Science 357, 491-495 (2017). First 2D-IR and IR pump-probe experiments mapping flucutating proton transfer motions of aqueous protons predominantly shared by two water molecules, with femtosecond proton elongations within a hydration site 10 to 50 times faster than proton hopping to a new site, the elementary von Grotthuss proton transfer step in chemistry.

  • M. Ekimova, W. Quevedo, L. Szyc, M. Iannuzzi, Ph. Wernet, M. Odelius and E. T. J. Nibbering. Aqueous solvation of ammonia and ammonium: Probing hydrogen bond motifs with FT-IR and soft-x-ray spectroscopy. J. Am. Chem. Soc.139 (36), 12773–12783 (2017). First comparative study on hydrogen-bond interactions of two key principal amine compounds in aqueous solution, ammonia and ammonium ion, combining local soft-x-ray and vibrational spectroscopic probes with ab initio molecular dynamics simulations.

  • C. Kleine, M. Ekimova, G. Goldsztejn, S. Raabe, C. Strüber, J. Ludwig, S. Yarlagadda, S. Eisebitt, M. J. J. Vrakking, T. Elsaesser, E. T. J. Nibbering, A. Rouzée. Soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy of aqueous solutions using a table-top femtosecond soft X-ray source. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 10 (1), 52–58 (2019). First demonstration of solution phase soft X-ray spectrosocopy in transmission mode using a table-top ultrafast laser-based extreme high-order harmonic source and liquid flatjet technology, covering the water window spectral range from 200-450 eV.

Full list of 188 publications in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings can be found here.

Invited Lectures and Papers Presented

• 291 contributions to conferences, including:
- 6 invited plenary/keynote oral presentations, 44 invited oral presentations, 57 short oral presentations, 25 poster presentations at national and international conferences;
• 88 invited external talks and colloquia at academic institutions worldwide.

Currrent Cooperative Research Activities

  • Aqueous proton transport dynamics (D. Sebastiani – Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, since 2013).
  • Electronic excited state proton and hydrogen transfer (with V. S. Batista – Yale University; since 2010).
  • Hydrogen bond dynamics of photoacids (with Ph. Wernet – Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, and M. Odelius – Stockholm University; since 2010).
  • Bimolecular proton transfer (with E. Pines – Ben Gurion University of the Negev; since 2001).
  • Acid-base interactions (with P. M. Tolstoy – St. Petersburg State University; since 2011).
  • Hydrogen bond dynamics (with T. Elsaesser – MBI; since 1997).
  • Filamentary pulse propagation (with G. Steinmeyer – MBI; since 2011).
  • Electronic excited state dynamics (M. Chergui – École Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne, since 2011).
  • Bimolecular electron transfer (with E. Vauthey – University of Geneva; since 2006).
  • Bimolecular proton-coupled electron transfer (H. N. Ghosh – Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, since 2008).
  • Structural dynamics of photoacids (with L. M. Tolbert and K. M. Solntsev – Georgiatech; since 2004).

Completed cooperative research activities can be found here.

Honorary Activities

  • Editorial board member of Optics Letters (2006-2012) and Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A (since 2006).
  • Member of Scientific Selection Panel (Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin BESSY II, since 2015).
  • Member of Proposal Review Panel (LCLS x-ray FEL facility, since 2015).
  • Member of Central Laser Facility Access Panel (STFC Rutherford Application Laboratory, 2014-2017).
  • Member of conference program committees of: Ultrafast Phenomena XIV (2004), CLEO®/Europe (2005), Ultrafast Phenomena XV (2006), Ultrafast Phenomena XVI (2008), Time-Resolved Vibrational Spectroscopy XV (2011), Time-Resolved Vibrational Spectroscopy XVI (2013), Time-Resolved Vibrational Spectroscopy XVII (2015), Time-Resolved Vibrational Spectroscopy XVIII (2017), Time-Resolved Vibrational Spectroscopy XVIII (2019)
  • Member of Optical Society of America (since 1994); Member of Koninklijke Nederlandse Chemische Vereniging (1987-2006).

Fund Raising

  • European Research Advanced Grant ERC-2017-ADG XRayProton: “Ultrafast Structural Dynamics of Elementary Water-Mediated Proton Transport Processes" (2018-2023).
  • Leibniz-Vorhaben im wettbewerblichen Verfahren (Leibniz-Wettbewerb) im Rahmen des Paktes für Forschung und Innovation SAW-2016-1 jointly with T. Elsaesser, A. Rouzee, M. J. J. Vrakking and M. Woerner: “Electron Dynamics and Charge Correlations Studied by Ultrafast Soft X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy" (2016-2018).
  • DFG Normalverfahren NI 492/13-1 /SE 1008/13-1 jointly with D. Sebastiani: “Femtosekundenspektroskopie und quantenchemische Molekulardynamik-simulationen von Protonentransferprozessen in wässriger Lösung" (2015-2018).
  • DFG Normalverfahren NI 492/11-1: “Probing Ultrafast Structural Dynamics in Proton Transfer Reactions in Solution with Time-Resolved Infrared and X-Ray Spectroscopies” (2012-2017).
  • German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research GIF-876 jointly with E. Pines: “Solvent Mediated Proton Transfer Observed by Optical and Mid-IR Spectroscopy" (German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research & Development) (2007-2009).
  • German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research GIF-722 jointly with E. Pines: “Optical and Mid-IR Investigations of Excited-State Proton-Transfer Reaction in Hydrogen-Bonded Strong-Acid-Strong-Base Complexes" (German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research & Development) (2003-2006)
  • Teilprojekt B2 von Sonderforschungsbereich 450 jointly with T. Elsaesser: “Analyse und Steuerung ultraschneller photoinduzierter Reaktionen" of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2001-2004; 2004-2007; 2007-2010).
  • DFG-Sonderschwerpunktprogramm NI 492 “Femtosekunden Spektroskopie elementarer Anregungen in Atomen, Molekülen und Clustern" (1998-1999; 2000-2001).




MBI Publications

  1. Electronic structure changes of an aromatic amine photoacid along the Förster cycle

    S. Eckert, M.-O. Winghart, C. Kleine, A. Banerjee, M. Ekimova, J. Ludwig, J. Harich, M. Fondell, R. Mitzner, E. Pines, N. Huse, P. Wernet, M. Odelius, E. T. J. Nibbering

    Angewandte Chemie-International Edition 61 (2022) e202200709/1-7
  2. Änderungen der elektronischen Struktur einer Amino-Photosäure entlang des Förster Zyklus

    S. Eckert, M.-O. Winghart, C. Kleine, A. Banerjee, M. Ekimova, J. Ludwig, J. Harich, M. Fondell, R. Mitzner, E. Pines, N. Huse, P. Wernet, M. Odelius, E. T. J. Nibbering

    Angew. Chemie 134 (2022) e202200709/1-8
  3. Shot noise limited soft x-ray absorption spectroscopy in solution at a SASE-FEL using a transmission grating beam splitter

    R. Y. Engel, M. Ekimova, P. S. Miedema, C. Kleine, J. Ludwig, M. Ochmann, B. Grimm-Lebsanft, R. Ma, M. Teubner, S. Dziarzhytski, G. Brenner, M.-K. Czwalinna, B. Rösner, T. Kyu Kim, C. David, S. Herres-Pawlis, M. Rübhausen, E. T. J. Nibbering, N. Huse, M. Beye

    Structural Dynamics 8 (2021) 014303 /1-10
  4. Switching between proton vacancy and excess proton transfer pathways in the reaction between 7-hydroxyquinoline and formate

    M.-A. Codescu, M. Weiß, M. Brehm, O. Kornilov, D. Sebastiani, E. T. J. Nibbering

    Journal of Physical Chemistry A 125 (2021) 1845–1859
  5. Highly efficient soft x-ray spectrometer for transient absorption spectroscopy with broadband table-top high harmonic sources

    C. Kleine, M. Ekimova, M.-O. Winghart, S. Eckert, O. Reichel, H. Löchel, J. Probst, C. Braig, C. Seifert, A. Erko, A. Sokolov, M. J. J. Vrakking, E. T. J. Nibbering, A. Rouzée

    Structural Dynamics 8 (2021) 034302/1-6
  6. Vibronic dynamics of photodissociating ICN from simulations of ultrafast X-ray absorption spectroscopy

    U. N. Morzan, P. E. Videla, M. B. Soley, E. T. J. Nibbering, V. S. Batista

    Angewandte Chemie-International Edition 59 (2020) 20044–20048
  7. Switching between ultrafast proton vacancy and excess proton transfer along a methanol solvent bridge

    M.-A. Codescu, O. Kornilov, E. T. J. Nibbering

    The 22nd International Conference on Ultrafast Phenomena 2020 OSA Publishing (2020) doi.org/10.1364/UP.2020.M4B.13
  8. Deciphering photoacidity by following electronic charge distribution changes along the photoacid Förster cycle with time-resolved nitrogen K-edge x-ray absorption spectroscopy

    S. Eckert, M.-O. Winghart, C. Kleine, A. Banerjee, M. Ekimova, J. Ludwig, J. Harich, R. Mitzner, D. Aminov, D. Pines, E. Pines, N. Huse, P. Wernet, M. Odelius, E. T. J. Nibbering

    The 22nd International Conference on Ultrafast Phenomena 2020 OSA Publishing (2020) doi.org/10.1364/UP.2020.Tu2A.6
  9. Hydrated excess protons in acetonitrile/water mixtures: solvation species and ultrafast proton motions

    A. Kundu, F. Dahms, B. P. Fingerhut, E. T. J. Nibbering, E. Pines, T. Elsaesser

    Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 10 (2019) 2287−2294
  10. Ultrafast proton transport between a hydroxy acid and a nitrogen base along solvent bridges governed by hydroxide/methoxide transfer mechanism

    M. Ekimova, F. Hoffmann, G. Bekçioğlu-Neff, A. Rafferty, O. Kornilov, E. T. J. Nibbering, D. Sebastiani

    Journal of the American Chemical Society 141 (2019) 14581-14592