“Physics on display in the shop window” – the foundation of the Faculty of Physics

After one and a half years of existence as a department, the Faculty of Physics was founded on July 10, 1972. Until moving into the University main building, the individual areas of experimental and theoretical physics are located in rented buildings in Bielefeld town centre.

View of an ion laser, 1985.

Photo: Richter
Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 01889

Even before the faculty was founded, there were several mathematics students who had physics as a minor subject. Therefore in January 1971, a physics department was established and a Chair in Theoretical Physics was appointed. In the spring of the same year, Theoretical Physics with borrowed furniture from Mathematics was able to move into some rooms in the top floor of the Iduna House at today’s Willy-Brand-Platz in Bielefeld.

Shortly afterwards, Experimental Physics moved into a rear building on Viktoria street and was finally able to set the first measuring apparatus in motion at the beginning of 1972. The rented space included a shop in the front building. Some of the courses in practical physics took place there, so that the citizens of Bielefeld were given the rare opportunity to observe the students in their work whilst ‘window shopping’.

The first vocational trainees at the Faculty of Physics, here still in the building at Viktoria Street and thus before 1975.

Photo: unknown
Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 01890

The Faculty chose a predominantly experimental research focus with the “Physics of Atoms and their Interactions”, which corresponded to the zeitgeist. This focus and the close interdisciplinary cooperation with scientists from Biology led to the approval of the first Bielefeld Collaborative Research Centre a good ten years after the foundation of the Faculty. Since then, the Faculty of Physics has gained international recognition and has developed strong networks in the scientific community. The SFB 216 “Polarisation and Correlation in Atomic Collision Complexes” (1983 to 1997) has contributed greatly to the Faculty’s international reputation and position in the research landscape.

Guided tour through a physics laboratory on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the University in November 1979.

Photo: Hans Dieter Johner
Source: NW Archiv (Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 01891)