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 and biomimetic 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. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 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. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 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. The Journal of Physical Chemistry 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. The Journal of Physical Chemistry 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 (2016-2020)

  • M. Ekimova, W. Quevedo, M. Faubel, Ph. Wernet and E. T. J. Nibbering. A liquid flatjet system for solution phase soft-X-ray spectroscopy. Structural Dynamics 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. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 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. Journal of the American Chemical Society 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, and A. Rouzée. Soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy of aqueous solutions using a table-top femtosecond soft X-ray source. The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 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.

Selected Milestone Works (2021-20...)

  • S. Eckert, M.-O. Winghart, C. Kleine, A. Banerjee, M. Ekimova, J. Ludwig, J. Harich, M. Fondell, R. Mitzner, E. Pines, N. Huse, Ph. Wernet, M. Odelius and E. T. J. Nibbering. Electronic structure changes of an aromatic amine photoacid along the Förster Cycle. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 61 (27), e202200709 (2022). First demonstration of ultrafast nitrogen K-edge spectroscopy of an amine photoacid resolving the long standing open question for photoacidity: major electronic structure changes occur on the base side of the so-called Förster cycle, whereas the acid side plays a minor role.

  • C. Kleine, M.-O. Winghart, Z.-Y. Zhang, M. Richter, M. Ekimova, S. Eckert, M. J. J. Vrakking, E. T. J. Nibbering, A. Rouzée and E. R. Grant. Electronic State Population Dynamics upon Ultrafast Strong Field Ionization and Fragmentation of Molecular Nitrogen. Physical Review Letters 129 (12), 123002 (2022). First determination of transient population dynamics of molecular nitrogen ion measured with femtosecond nitrogen K-edge spectroscopy, pointing to a coherent polarization interplay between the B, X and A states as the underlying mechanism for the phenomenon of air lasing.

  • M. Ekimova, C. Kleine, J. Ludwig, M. Ochmann, T. E. G. Agrenius, E. Kozari, D. Pines, E. Pines, N. Huse, Ph. Wernet, M. Odelius and E. T. J. Nibbering. From Local Covalent Bonding to Extended Electric Field Interactions in Proton Hydration. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 61 (46), e202211066 (2022). First oxygen K-edge measurements of the hydrated proton complex in acetonitrile showing that the hydrated proton complex in solution consists of an inner H7O3+ with drastically modified electronic structure, and an additional hydration shell affected by the Coulomb electric field interactions with the proton.


Full list of 210 publications in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings can be found here.

Invited Lectures and Papers Presented

• 333 contributions to conferences, including:
- 10 invited plenary/keynote oral presentations, 52 invited oral presentations, 64 short oral presentations, 28 poster presentations at national and international conferences;
• 93 invited external talks and colloquia at academic institutions worldwide.


Currrent Cooperative Research Activities

  • 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 and proton transfer 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).
  • Hydrogen bond dynamics (with T. Elsaesser – MBI; since 1997).

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, 2015-2021).
  • Member of Proposal Review Panel (LCLS x-ray FEL facility, 2015-2020).
  • Member of Central Laser Facility Access Panel (STFC Rutherford Application Laboratory, 2014-2017).
  • Member of conference program committees of: Ultrafast Phenomena (XIV 2004; XV 2006; XVI 2008), CLEO®/Europe (2005), Time-Resolved Vibrational Spectroscopy (XV 2011;  XVI 2013; XVII 2015; XVIII 2017; XIX 2019: XX 2021; XXI 2023).
  • Member of Optical Society of America (since 1994); Member of Koninklijke Nederlandse Chemische Vereniging (1987-2006).

Fund Raising

  • Leibniz-Vorhaben im wettbewerblichen Verfahren (Leibniz-Wettbewerb) im Rahmen des Paktes für Forschung und Innovation SAW-2024-1 jointly with A. Rouzee, T. Nagy (External partners A. Stolow, M. Schuurman, M. Kowalewski, M. Odelius): “Mapping FMOs in Ultrafast Charge Migration" (2024-...)
  • DFG Normalverfahren NI 492/13-2 / SE 1008/13-2 Nachfolgeantrag “Femtosekundenspektroskopie und quantenchemische Molekulardynamik-simulationen von Protonentransferprozessen in wässriger Lösung" (2022-   )
  • 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. Self-channeling of intense femtosecond optical pulses through air

    P.F. Curley, E.T.J. Nibbering, G. Grillon, M.A. Franco, T. Lehner, B . S. Prade, A. Mysyrowicz

    Ultrafast Phenomena X Springer Berlin (1996) 103-104
  2. Nie-lineaire propagatie van intense femtosekonde laser pulsen door lucht

    E.T.J. Nibbering, P.F. Curley, G. Grillon, B:S. Prade, M.A. Franco, T. Lehner, F. Salin, A. Mysyrowicz

    NNV Sectie Atoomfysica en Qauntumelectronica Van A Tot Q8 (1995) 23-30