Statement on the collaboration of an MBI researcher with north-Korean scientists

Statement of the Max-Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short-Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI) on the report of "Deutsche Welle" from Nov 28th 2022 on the collaboration of an MBI researcher with north-Korean scientists



The MBI conducts basic research for civilian purposes only on the interaction of light with matter, and uses lasers in combination with methods of ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy and structure research. The scientific work of the MBI is embedded in a network of international collaborations. Without exception, MBI´s scientific results are published in the open scientific literature.

The MBI regrets that, as reported by Deutsche Welle on November 28th 2022, one of its scientists has continued a scientific cooperation with north-Korean scientists after the UN-Embargo of November 2016. The MBI takes responsibility for this incorrect behaviour.

The subject of this cooperation were theoretical calculations and modelling of the physical properties of a special form of optically excited matter, so-called plasmons. The cooperation was carried out exclusively on the basis of exchanges via e-mail. The research results were jointly reported in nine publications that, after peer review, appeared in freely accessible, primarily American scientific journals. These purely theoretical results have not been experimentally tested, nor technologically applied. In our view, there is no recognizable dual-use potential.

The MBI points out that this cooperation was not a cooperation at an institutional level, but a personal cooperation of a single MBI scientist. In September 2019 the MBI has ordered the discontinuation of the research collaboration with the north-Korean researchers. Further cooperations with North-Korean scientists did not and do not exist since this time. In addition, all institutes of the Forschungsverbund Berlin and hence also the MBI received advice in 2019 from the Federal Office for Economic and Export Controls (BAFA), which is responsible for technology transfer and the export of scientific results.  The MBI has since adapted its internal processes.

The MBI emphasizes that it does not engage in any research with military relevance and does not collaborate with research organizations that pursue military goals. We vehemently reject any suggestion of a possible connection between MBI’s research activities and the nuclear weapons program in North-Korea.


Max-Born-Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI)

Prof. Dr. Marc Vrakking
Managing Director
Phone 030 6392-1201

Prof. Dr. Stefan Eisebitt
Phone 030 6392-1300