Photo: Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn

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

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Profile, Areas, Awards 

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© Fabio Bracht on unsplash


Members, Partners

Current Highlights

1.5 million euros for improved quantum sensors
Physicists at the University of Bonn lead a new European QuantERA collaborative project

25. April 2022

They originate from the world of the smallest particles and have the ability to measure things with the highest precision - quantum sensors are currently veritable stars among experts. For a project aimed at improving such sensors, physicists at the University of Bonn and their international partners are now receiving funding of around 1.5 million euros from the European QuantERA program. In their project, the researchers want to guide laser-cooled atoms through hollow-core photonic crystal fibers in order to incorporate them into quantum sensors and quantum computers. The Technical University of Darmstadt, the Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland), the University of Torun (Poland) and the company Alpine Quantum Technologies (Austria) are involved.

Further information can be found in the official press release of the University of Bonn.

Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer vom Physikalischen Institut der Universität Bonn koordiniert das neue Projekt „QuantumGuide“..jpeg
© Simon Wegener / ML4Q

ERC Starting Grant for Jun. Prof. Dr. Ala Bunescu

17. March 2022

Junior Professor Dr. Ala Bunescu, scientist at the Kekulé Institute for Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry and member of the Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) "Building Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions" at the University of Bonn is awarded an ERC Starting Grant. This will provide her with 1.5 million euros for her research over the next five years.

The scientist is researching new strategies for tailor-made chemicals with lowest economic and ecological impacts as possible. The focus is on organic compounds, such as those needed in the production of food, drugs, and dietary supplements. In the project "Multifunctional Ligands for Enhanced Catalysis," she is primarily interested in directly replacing carbon-hydrogen bonds with desired functional groups using earth-abundant transition metal catalysts.

Please see the press release for further information.

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© Ala Bunescu / Uni Bonn

Two recently appointed Argelander professors initiate exciting Biohybrid Research at the University of Bonn


Combining artificially created building blocks with natural ones - that is the goal of two new assistant professors at the University of Bonn. Biophysicist Dr. Alena Khmelinskaia and biophysical chemist Dr. Patrycja Kielb work at the interfaces of different disciplines and hold so-called Argelander professorships, two new posts created at the university with funds from the Excellence program. Alena Khmelinskaia and Patrycja Kielb are now building a bridge between chemistry, physics, and life sciences in the TRA "Building Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions". Their work is relevant for the development of sustainable technologies in modern societies, for example, in medicine or energy research.

Please see the press release for further information

The two new Argelander professors - Jun.-Prof. Dr. Alena Khmelinskaia (left) and Jun.-Prof. Dr. Patrycja Kielb © Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn

First networking workshop with members of the academic staff in the heart of the Siebengebirge


Members of the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Building Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions (TRA Matter) chose an extraordinary place for networking. On a sunny day and with posters printed on canvas, the hike started to the viewpoint “Hülle”, which is located above Oberdollendorf (in the heart of the Siebengebirge). Besides getting to know each other personally, the scientific exchange between physicists and chemists researching at the University of Bonn was in the foreground. A successful day out in nature.

Figure (from left to right): Frank Vewinger, Marianne Engeser, Michael Lupberger, Konrad Peithmann, Larissa von Krbek, Dinar Abdullin, Andreas Hansen © Birgit Westernströer / Uni Bonn

Fulbright-Cottrell Award for Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer

02.07. 2021

Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer, scientist at the Physikalischen Institut, has been awarded by the German-American Fulbright Commission with the Fulbright-Cottrell Award for innovative teaching methods. Please see the press release for further information.

An innovative idea for training students - has earned physicist Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer this year's Fulbright-Cottrell Award, which is endowed with nearly 70,000 euros. © Gregor Hübl/Uni Bonn

ERC Advanced Grant for Prof. Dr. Ulf-G. Meißner

22. April 2021

Prof. Dr. Ulf-G. Meißner, scientist at the Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen- und Kernphysik, has been awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) for his research project "Emergent Complexity from Strong Interactions (EXOTIC)" with an Advanced Grant. Please see the press release for further information.

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With the help of the chiral nuclear effective field theory (EFT), fundamental questions shall be answered in the future within the EXOTIC research project © Ulf.-G. Meißner / Uni Bonn


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

Current press

Dating for researchers at the Bundeskunsthalle (Press release 09.06.22)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Longest intergalactic gas filament discovered (Press release 17.12.2020)

Forschungsgroßvorhaben gehen in neue Runde (Press release 27.11.2020)

Events & Offers

Here you will find information on ongoing events (e.g. TRA Matter Public Lecture Series and TRA Matter Colloquium) and offers of TRA Matter.

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© Uni Bonn


TRA Management

Dr. Birgit Westernströer

TRA Manager

Stabsstelle für strategische Entwicklung und Qualitätssicherung

Prorektorat für Forschung und wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs

Tel.: +49 (0) 15152560751


Founding speakers

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Thoma

Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen- und Kernphysik

Prof. Dr. Peter Vöhringer

Institut für Physikalische und Theoretische Chemie

TRA Management

TRA Management

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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