Building Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions (TRA Matter)

© Bialek/Uni Bonn

The formation of complex structures based on the fundamental building blocks of matter and their interactions is investigated from subnuclear and subatomic over atomic, molecular, bio-molecular to terrestrial and astronomical length scales, increasing the knowledge of mankind on the fundamentals of nature. Sophisticated and highly visible experiments are done in the synthetic, analytical, spectroscopy, optics and detector laboratories at various Institutes at the University of Bonn, at its electron accelerator ELSA, and colliders worldwide as well as at observatories on the ground and in space. These experiments are complemented by world-leading theoretical calculations which in part also surpass the boundaries presently accessible by experiment. This research is highly recognized internationally and is supported within several coordinated research programs.

Scientific networks of chemists, physicists, biologists, pharmacists, geologists, and many more address highly challenging questions by exploring nature at all relevant distance scales. Even though the investigations are largely driven by curiosity to understand the inner workings of nature, they also lead to numerous spin-offs for technology and society such as detector technologies, first steps toward quantum technology, image analysis and rational molecular design.

Intensified collaboration between the various research groups crossing the boundaries of the different fields of science benefits not only the research but also the education of our students. Strong connections not only to large scale research infrastructures worldwide, such as CERN, FAIR, KEK, BESSY, ALMA, eROSITA , Euclid, and Athena, but also its local infrastructure and the connections to the institutions of the Max-Planck Society (MPIfR, MPI CEC, caesar), the ABC/J Geoverbund and the Forschungszentrum Jülich make Bonn a unique location for fundamental research.

Cluster of Excellence: ML4Q - Matter and Light for Quantum Computing

About TRA
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About TRA Matter

Mission, Objectives, Organisation

© Markus Winkler on unsplash


Profile, Areas, Awards 

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© Fabio Bracht on unsplash


Members, Partners

Our members

The scientific network of TRA Matter continues to grow and consists of members from different disciplines (e.g. Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Molecular Biomedicine, Geodesy, Pharmacy).

Research Professorships of the Transdisciplinary Research Area

Lena Funcke
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Clausius Professorship

We are pleased to welcome Jun.-Prof. Lena Funcke as new Clausius professor of TRA Matter at the University of Bonn as of November 1st, 2022. The research of Funcke and her team focuses on the development of new models and computational methods to tackle the fundamental questions of particle physics.

Patrycja Kielb
© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Argelander Professorship

We are pleased to welcome Jun.-Prof. Patrycja Kielb as new Argelander professor of TRA Matter at the University of Bonn. Kielb and her team explore how nature performs complicated redox reactions constituting key processes in the environment and life, like biomass degradation and/or cellular respiration and how such a knowledge can be harnessed in the development of biohybrid systems

Current Highlights

Second sucessful TRA networking symposium with the motto „MATTER Connects“

05. July 2023

On 03.07.23 the second edition of the TRA Matter networking event took place at the Clausius Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry. Almost 50 scientists, including approximately 30 young scientists, participated in the event that was hosted by the speakers Prof. Connie Lu and Prof. Sebastian Neubert, and the TRA manager, Dr. Birgit Westernströer. The program with the motto "MATTER Connects" was highly diverse, consisting of poster flash talks/poster presentations, mini group discussions, as well as two plenary lectures by Prof. Schiemann and Prof. Stellmer. Among the participating PhDs and postdocs who presented poster flash talks/poster presentations, five poster prizes have been awarded by the Vice Rector Prof. Andreas Zimmer, the Vice Rector for Research and Young Scientists. The TRA speakers and the management team are very satisfied with the intensive and productive atmosphere and  that promoted further interdisciplinary exchange among chemists and physicists.

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TRA speakers Prof. Connie Lu and Prof. Sebastian Neubert, Vice Rector Prof. Andreas Zimmer and the award winners for the best poster flash talks/poster presentations: Timothy Schwartz (not pictured), Dennis Proft, Pauline Lemp, Angie Veronica and Luca Denkler. © Birgit Westernströer / Uni Bonn

Euclid mission successfully launched into space on July 1, 2023

03. July 2023

The research group of Peter Schneider, professor at the Argelander-Institute for Astronomy (AIfA) and member of the Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) "Building Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions" at the University of Bonn, is part of the international Euclid Consortium and chair of the editorial office for all publications within this consortium. This year, Schneider and his colleague Patrick Simon were awarded a Euclid Star Prize for leading the Editorial Bureau, in charge of handling all publications from the Euclid Consortium. With two earlier Star Prizes awarded to Dr. Reiko Nakajima in 2019 and 2022, this is the third time the award goes to the AIfA. For important preparatory studies regarding weak gravitational lensing, aiming at the scientific exploitation of data from the ESA satellite Euclid, Prof. Schneider and his research group also received a grant from TRA Matter. For more information, see the press release.

„ERC Proof of Concept Grant“ for Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer

05. May 2023

Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer, scientist at the „Physikalisches Institut“ and member of the Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) "Building Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions" at the University of Bonn has been awarded with an ERC Proof of Concept Grant. This grant will provide him funding (150.000 EUR) for his research project “GyroRevolution” over the next year. Preliminary work was funded by TRA Matter. Congratulations to Prof. Stellmer and his team!

Please see the press release for further information.

New TRA Clausius Professor for Computational Quantum Field Theory at the University of Bonn

27. March 2023

In seeking answers to the fundamental questions of particle physics, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Lena Funcke will develop new models beyond the Standard Model of particle physics and apply novel computational methods for calculating model predictions at the University of Bonn. This will be a new interdisciplinary research focus at the University of Bonn in the Transdisciplinary Research Area “Matter”. For more information, please read the press release or browse the following website.

© Birgit Westernströer / Uni Bonn

First TRA Workshop on "Data Science and Data Management"

17./18. January 2023

About 100 scientists from the University of Bonn and all 6 TRAs met for the first time on January 17 and 18, 2023 at the Wissenschaftszentrum in Bonn to address the topic of "Data Science and Data Management" and exchange ideas on current challenges. In terms of content, the exchange was promoted by offering interesting scientific and service-oriented talks, posters and hands-on workshops. Results from this workshop will also be summarized in a white paper. The organizers were very satisfied overall and loved a very lively discussion culture, so that a follow-up event on this important topic is already being considered.

Researchers “film” novel catalyst at work

A novel catalysis scheme enables chemical reactions that were previously virtually impossible. The method developed at the University of Bonn is also environmentally friendly and does not require rare and precious metals. The researchers recorded the exact course of the catalysis in a kind of high-speed film. They did this using special lasers that can make processes visible that last only fractions of a billionth of a second. The results allow them to further optimize the catalyst. They have been published in the international edition of the renowned journal “Angewandte Chemie.”

Effect in the quantum world: When electrons slowly vanish during cooling

Many substances change their properties when they are cooled below a certain critical temperature. Such a phase transition occurs, for example, when water freezes. However, in certain metals there are phase transitions that do not exist in the macrocosm. They arise because of the special laws of quantum mechanics that apply in the realm of nature’s smallest building blocks. It is thought that the concept of electrons as carriers of quantized electric charge no longer applies near these exotic phase transitions. Researchers at the University of Bonn and ETH Zurich have now found a way to prove this directly. Their findings allow new insights into the exotic world of quantum physics. The publication has now been released in the journal Nature Physics.

Euclid space telescope successfully launched into space / Project with participation from Bonn

The European Space Agency's Euclid space telescope was launched into space today at 17:11 CEST on a Falcon 9 rocket from the U.S. space company SpaceX. From its destination, the Lagrange Point 2 (L2) of the Earth and Sun, it will observe over a third of the entire sky for at least six years and map the spatial distribution of several billion galaxies. The data obtained will provide information about the influence of dark matter and dark energy on the structure of the Universe. With six research institutes, Germany is strongly involved in the international Euclid Consortium. Among them is the Argelander Institute for Astronomy (AIfA) at the University of Bonn.

Simulation provides images from the carbon nucleus

What does the inside of a carbon atom’s nucleus look like? A new study by Forschungszentrum Jülich, Michigan State University (USA) and the University of Bonn provides the first comprehensive answer to this question. In the study, the researchers simulated all known energy states of the nucleus. These include the puzzling Hoyle state. If it did not exist, carbon and oxygen would only be present in the universe in tiny traces. Ultimately, we therefore also owe it our own existence. The study has now been published in the journal “Nature Communications.”

Press archive

Press archive of the University of Bonn, related to TRA Matter

Fascination of the unknown: black holes and the limits of our knowledge (Press release 11.08.2023)

On the trail of the big questions of particle physics (Press release 27.03.2023)

New ATLAS result weighs in on the W boson (Press release 23.03.2023)

Helium-burning white dwarf discovered (Press release 23.03.2023)

European Football Championship with side effects (Press release 20.01.2023)

Physical effect also valid in the quantum world (Press release 20.01.2023)

Astronomy: Observation puzzles researchers (Press release 26.10.2022)

Therapeutic drug renders cancer cell weapon harmless (Press release 24.08.2022)

No trace of dark matter halos (Press release 05.08.2022)

Four ERC Grants for the University of Bonn (Press release 25.07.2022)

Dormant black hole discovered outside our galaxy (Press release 19.07.2022)

University and Nobel Laureates Celebrate Rudolph Clausius as Visionary (Press release 14.07.2022)

Dating for researchers at the Bundeskunsthalle (Press release 09.06.22)

1.5 million euros for improved quantum sensors (Press release 25.04.2022)

Successful spin-off from the University of Bonn and LSI (Press release 25.04.2022)

Study shows how bioactive substance inhibits important receptor (Press release 25.03.2022)

Three ERC Grants for the University of Bonn at once (Press release 17.03.2022)

Too many disk galaxies than theory allows (Press release 04.02.2022)

Protons are probably actually smaller than long thought (Press release 04.02.2022)

“Bonn is the proper place for Clausius to be memorialized” (Press release 24.1.2022)

"Heavy" hydrogen stabilizes drugs (Press release 23.12.2021)

Chemists design "molecular sea of flags" (Press release 26.11.2021)

Kekulé's shattered dream: snakes become ladders (Press release 16.11.2021)

University of Bonn’s Research and Technology Center for Detector Physics gets ceremonial opening (Press release 09.11.2021)

Researchers film fundamental life process (Press release 27.10.2021)

Between nature and technology (Press release 04.10.2021)

Artificial intelligence sharpens the view into space (Press release 30.08.2021)

Transformation in the particle zoo - Study led by the University of Bonn finds evidence of a long-sought effect in CERN data (Press release 18.08.2021)

Physicist honored for excellent teaching (Press release 02.07.2021)

Matter highway in space makes galaxy clusters grow (Press release 28.06.2021)

Researchers investigate structural changes in snap-frozen proteins (Press release 27.04.2021)

Ulf-G. Meißner receives an ERC Advanced Grant (Press release 12.04.2021)

A new state of light (Press release 30.03.2021)

Molecule attacks coronavirus in a novel way (Press release 26.03.2021)

When memory qubits and photons get entangled (Press release 12.03.2021)

Innovations through hair-thin optical fibres (Press release 20.01.21)

Researchers develop sustainable catalysis process (Press release 18.01.2021)

Physicists observe competition between magnetic orders (Press release 06.01.2021)

Chemists synthesize "flat" silicon compounds (Press release 22.12.2020)

Longest intergalactic gas filament discovered (Press release 17.12.2020)

Forschungsgroßvorhaben gehen in neue Runde (Press release 27.11.2020)

Catalyst enables reactions with the help of green light (Press release 20.04.2020)

Press review

LHCb releases first set of data to the public (8.12.2022)

Events & Offers

Here you will find information on ongoing events (e.g. TRA Matter Colloquium, Networking events) and offers of TRA Matter.

© Natascha Buhl / Uni Bonn


Here you will find links, videos and announcements related to TRA Matter or from past events.


TRA Management

Dr. Birgit Westernströer

TRA Manager

Stabsstelle für strategische Entwicklung und Qualitätssicherung

Prorektorat für Forschung und wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs

Tel.: +49 (0) 15152560751



Prof. Dr. Connie C. Lu

Institut für Anorganische Chemie

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Neubert

Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen- und Kernphysik

The other TRAs at the University of Bonn

Get an interesting insight into the other Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs) of the University of Bonn here. 

Six TRAs: the research profile of the University of Bonn 

TRA Mathematics, Modelling and Simulation of Complex Systems

TRA Life and Health

TRA Individuals, Institutions and Societies

TRA Past Worlds and Modern Questions. Cultures Across Time and Space

TRA Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures

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