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Prof Paul Scherrer
Prof Paul Scherrer

Paul Scherrer (1890 - 1969) studied physics and mathematics at the ETH Zürich, in Königsberg and in Göttingen. After a successful research activity in the field of X-ray scattering (Debye-Scherrer method), he dedicated himself to nuclear physics. Paul Scherrer was actively involved in the foundation of the CERN. The research center in Villigen (Paul Scherrer Institute, PSI) is named after him.

Organization from 1960 to 2012


P. Scherrer is a professor emeritus. The Physics Institute at ETH is reorganized as a department. In the new department, two institutes are created in the field of nuclear and particle physics:

  • LfK : P. Marmier ( † 1973), J. Lang (since 1970), V.L. Telegdi (since 1976), H. Hofer (since 1978)
  • LHE : J.-P. Blaser, H.-J. Gerber (since 1970), H.J. Leisi (since 1971), H. Hofer (since 1973), V.L. Telegdi (since 1978)


Reorganization of Nuclear and Particle Physics. The LfK and LHE are replaced by two new institutes.

  • Institute for High Energy Physics (IHP) with H. Hofer, V.L. Telegdi (until 1989), F. Pauss (since 1992);
  • Institute for Medium Energy Physics (IMP) with H.-J. Gerber, J.-P. Blaser (until 1991), J. Lang, H.J. Leisi, R. Eichler (since 1989).


The IHP and IMP are merged into the Institute for Particle Physics (IPP), consisting of the following laboratories:

  • Laboratory for High Energy Physics (LHP) with H. Hofer (until 2001, successor G. Dissertori in 2001) and F. Pauss (since 2009 in charge of the international relations of CERN with reduced ETH employment of 20%, successor R. Wallny in 2010 );
  • Laboratory for Particle Physics (LTP) with R. Eichler (2002 – 2007 director of PSI, since 2007 president of ETH Zurich), H-J. Gerber (until 1997, no replacement), H.J. Leisi (until 1998, successor A. Rubbia in 1998), K. Kirch (since 2009, joint appointment of 60% PSI and 40% ETH);
  • Laboratory for Nuclear Physics with J. Lang (until 2001, no replacement).


The subdivision of IPP into laboratories was abandoned. The institute now hosts five full professors with their groups: Proff. Dissertori, Kirch, Pauss, Rubbia and Wallny.

The history of the Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics »»».

Research activities from 1960 to 2012

LfK -> IMP

  • QED- measurements at EIR (now PSI), Würenlingen (Reactor group)
  • Installation of the Tandem accelerator
  • Nuclear structure and nuclear reactions
  • Polarization experiments
  • Experiments with light ions (A = 4 -16)
  • Experiments with fast neutrons
  • Experiments on parity violation in proton-proton scattering and in light nuclei
  • Symmetry violations, in particular time reversal invariance in nuclear and muon decays
  • Pion-deuteron scattering
  • Analyzing power in pp scattering
  • Applied research with ion beams, for example age determinations with the accelerator mass spectroscopy


  • Planning of the SIN (Swiss Institute for Nuclear Research, now PSI)
  • Experiments at CERN, for example coherent production of particles and search for resonances
  • Muonic and pionic X-ray measurements with crystal spectrometers at SIN/PSI
  • Interactions of leptons and helicity of the muon neutrino
  • Complete determination of the muon decay parameters
  • Production of muonic hydrogen and helium
  • Measurement of the mass of the muon neutrino
  • Rare muon and pion decays
  • Experiments on muon spin-rotation: applications in solid state physics
  • Pion-nucleon physics at low energies (pionic hydrogen and deuterium, pion-nucleon scattering, pion nucleon model)
  • CP-LEAR-Experiment at CERN: Measurements with neutral K-mesons to study the CPT, CP, T symmetries and basic characteristics of Quantum Mechanics
  • Studies of B-meson physics
  • H1-Experiment at DESY

LfK -> IHP

  • Second Class Currents
  • Parity violation in atoms
  • NA10 experiment at CERN: inclusive production of muon pairs by pions, meaurement of the pion structure function


  • Planning and construction of the L3 detector, running of the L3 experiment at LEP at CERN
  • Precise measurements of the number of neutrino generations (=3)
  • Determination of the properties of Z bosons
  • Determination of electroweak parameters
  • Studies of mesons containing heavy quarks
  • B0 - anti-B0 oscillations (CP-violation in the B system)
  • QCD studies
  • Search for deviations from the Standard Model
  • Studies for an experiment (L*) at SSC (Dallas, Texas)
  • Studies to convert the L3 detector for LHC: L3+1 and L3P
  • Preliminary studies for an experiment (CMS) at LHC at CERN


  • L3 and the L3+Cosmics experiments at CERN
  • Contributions to the AMS-01 and AMS-02 detectors for the International Space Station (ISS)
  • Neutron decays at the SINQ (PSI)
  • Development of an ultra-cold neutron source at PSI
  • Prepare the neutron electric dipole (nEDM) experiment at PSI
  • CMS experiment at the LHC (search for Higgs and SUSY particles)
  • Study of neutrino oscillations (OPERA, T2K)
  • Development of a detector (ArDM) for a direct Dark Matter search
  • Study of high-energy cosmic gamma rays with the MAGIC Cherenkov telescope
  • Construction of a G-APD camera (FACT) for the Cherenkov telescope
  • Preparation for the CTA Cherenkov Telescope Array
  • Measurement of the Lamb shift in muonic hydrogen at PSI
  • Development of a low-energy positron beam
  • Positronium physics
  • Development of a novel scanner head for Positron Emission Tomography
Page URL: http://www.ipp.phys.ethz.ch/the-institute/history.html
Thu Jul 20 10:57:27 CEST 2017
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