profile picture Benjamin Johnson

Benjamin Johnson

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow (Nov 2019-Mai 2024)


Benjamin Johnson received a bachelor of physics from the George Washington University in Washington, DC and his Diplom and PhD in physics from the Technische Universität Berlin in 2010. His doctoral research was on the electronic properties for semiconductor heterojunctions in thin-layer solar cells studied with X-ray spectroscopic methods. Between 2011 and 2015 he continued this research at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society (FHI), now with catalytic materials, mainly iridium and platinum oxides, for the generation of alternative fuels (hydrogen). In 2015 Benjamin began a joint project between FHI and the MPIWG on the scientific development of ammonia synthesis, discovered by Fritz Haber and others between 1903 and 1908. Known today as the Haber-Bosch process, it enabled the mass production of fertilizer and revolutionized the way we feed the Earth’s population.

The resulting book, Making Ammonia: Fritz Haber, Walther Nernst, and the Nature of Scientific Discovery, is available open access with Springer. It emphasizes the transdisciplinary communication needed to propel knowledge throughout the web of basic research and, when appropriate, into industry.

Benjamin is also a member of the Anthropocene Working Group and in the frame of the Anthropocene Markers Project recently published “Closed Chemical Cycles: A Future Marker for the Anthropocene.” In keeping with the group’s transdisciplinary approach, he maintains close ties with the scientists at FHI and other research institutes and is active in science outreach and communication on both the German and EU levels.  


IV. Anthropocene Formations


Material Practices: The Anthropocene Earth in Formation


No projects were found for this scholar.

Past Events


Anthropogenic Markers Workshop


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

History of Ammonia Synthesis

TU Berlin

The Nuclear-Based Closed Carbon Cycle: A Missed Opportunity

ESHS, Brussels

ESHS Brussels
Stages of uncertainty: From technology to social and biological consequences

Uni Bielefeld, Navigating Uncertainty: Preparing Society for the Future

Navigating Uncertainty: Preparing Society for the Future
Basic Research with Immediate Application: Restructuring Science for the Energy Transition

Berlin, Max Planck Conference for a Sustainable Anthropocene

Max Planck Conference for a Sustainable Anthropocene
Revamping–or Revitalizing?–Science for the Future of Energy

Berlin, FuturePub-Berlin


Nachrichten & Presse

Benjamin Johnson bei WUSF Public Media über die Erfindung und die Perspektiven von synthetischem Ammoniak


„Ammoniak und seine Synthese“, Jürgen Renn in Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau.


Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau über die epochale Erfindung der Ammoniaksynthese.