Winfried Petry

Prof. Dr.

Former professor for functional materials and scientific director of FRM II
TUM School of Natural Sciences

born 1951


Interview with TUM Emeritus of Excellence Winfried Petry

"I am now a Tue-Wed-Thu professor"

Whoever deals with neurons will come across his name: Winfried Petry. In October 2018 the alumnus and retired professor has been appointed TUM Emeritus of Excellence – a title that is honouring his lifetime achievements at TUM. [read more]


Winfried Petry is an internationally renowned scientist in the field of condensed matter and research with neutrons. His early research was dedicated to the pico- and nanoseconds dynamics of disordered systems near the solidification. He succeeded in establishing the proof that very different systems like proteins, inorganic and organic and metallic glasformers follow universal scale laws. By systematically measuring the vibration dynamics of elementary metals he was able to show that most of them condense in the open body cubic centered (bcc) structure due to their high vibration entropy. High resolution quasielastic neutron scattering revealed the atomic diffusion process in metals, namely by nearest neighbor jumps into vacancies. The common point in all his works is that functional properties of materials can be explained on the basis of atomic motion.

In 2002, Winfried Petry became the Scientific Director of the Neutron Source FRM II. In this capacity,he was in charge of the design and the set-up of the instrumentation of the facility. From the very beginning, he opened the facility to the international scientific competition. In a first step, he solicited numerous research groups at universities, at Max Planck institutes and at the For-schungszentrum Jülich to actively participate in the set-up and operation of the instruments at FRM II. This collaboration resulted in the foundation of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ) in 2011. The MLZ is committed to exploit the scientific use of neutrons. Today, about 1000 scientists per year perform their experiments at the MLZ, with a share of about 50 % of international scientists; typically, the beam time available is overbooked by the factor of two. Today MLZ is the neutron research center with the widest applications worldwide. The German Federal Government pro-vides about 50 % of the funds of MLZ.

The FRM II is a partner in the research and development efforts made worldwide to qualify high density uranium fuels, a prerequisite for converting the neutron source to lower enriched uranium fuel. Winfried Petry was the head of the respective working group at the FRM II since 2003. Up to now, he advises his successor, Prof. Peter Müller-Buschbaum, on this very special topic.


Short Biography

1970 - 1976 Studies in physiks at the Technical University of Munich
1976 - 1982 Doctoral studies at TUM and at the free University of Berlin
1983 - 1992

Research scientist and head of the low temperature group at the European research institute 
Institut Laue Langevin (ILL)

1992 Postdoctoral qualification (habilitation) Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich
1992 - 2018 Full Professor at the Physics Department of TUM
2002 - 2018 Scientific Director of the Neutron Source (FRM II)
2011 - 2018 Scientific Director of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ)


Memberships and honours

1990 - 2018 Member of "Komitee für Forschung mit Neutronen" (Committee for research and neutrons)
since 1993 Organizer of the Edgar-Lüscher training course for grammar school teachers, Gymnasium of the city of Zwiesel, Bavaria
since 1999 Liaison professor of Bayerische Eliteakademie (Bavarian Elite Academy) and since May 2011 member of the board of trustees
2005 - 2019

Board member of the "Deutsches Atomforum e.V." (DAtF); Vice President of DAtF (2014 - 2019)

since 2007 

Member of the steering Committee of the Laue Langevin Institute Grenoble

since 2012 Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of NaWi Graz

2015 - 2022    

Member of the Neutron Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Resreach Center Kurchatov Institute "Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute (PNPI, Gatchina)
since 2016 Board member of the iInternational meeting centre "Internationales Begegnungszentrum (IBZ)" Munich of TUM, LMU and MPG
since 2019              Member of the Project Advisory Committee of the European Spallation Source (ESS)



2006 Honorary Professor of the Chinese Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE)

2008 Cross of Merit of the German Federal Republic

2018 Honorary Member of the Kerntechnische Gesellschaft (KTG e.V.)

 You can download "Explanations of honors and awards" here [PDF 215 KB]