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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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

Interdisciplinary hands-on workshop “Machine Learning” for young scientists from the fields of matter, modelling and life sciences

March 19 + 20, 2024

Around 60 post-docs and doctoral students from the transdisciplinary research areas “Matter”, “Modelling”, “Life and Health” and the “Bonner Forum Biomedizin” (BFB) took part in this year's interdisciplinary hands-on workshop “Machine Learning”. At the two-day workshop, early career scientists gained insights into machine learning and its theoretical concepts in various ways. Following a basic lecture in three parts by Prof. Dr. Bauckhage, all participants had the opportunity to try out what they had learned in practical application exercises. On the second day, lectures provided insights on the application of “Physics-informed Neural Networks” (PINN) to model gene regulation in stem cells (Dr. Maria Mircea), the use of generative AI models for physical questions (Dr. Kim Nicoli) and the Use of “Active Learning” for behavior analysis in neuroscience (Dr. Jens Tillmann). The event ended with a small networking session in which the participants were able to exchange information about their research and what they had learned during these two days of workshop.

We would like to thank the excellent speakers and dedicated tutors for their contribution to the success of this workshop!

Group picture - Hands-on workshop ML 2024
© Birgit Westernströer, Uni Bonn

New Collaborative Research Center at the University of Bonn

27. November 2023

The new Collaborative Research Center (CRC) "NuMeriQS: Numerical Methods for Dynamics and Structure Formation in Quantum Systems" is being funded at the University of Bonn. The aim is to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics and structure formation in quantum systems.

The newly created Collaborative Research Center "NuMeriQS" combines computational methods developed in physics and chemistry with each other and these in turn with the latest developments in mathematics and computer science. The research is therefore located at the interface of the transdisciplinary research areas "Matter" and "Modeling" and can be described as an interdisciplinary success.

Spokesperson Prof. Dr. Carsten Urbach and co-spokesperson Prof. Dr. Barbara Kirchner of the Collaborative Research Centre and simultaneous members of the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Matter" thus promote cooperation between scientists from different disciplines. In addition to Jun. Prof. Lena Funcke, Clausius Professor of the TRA "Matter", other members of the TRA Matter are also involved in the Collaborative Research Center.

Please see the press release for further information.

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.

Foto Netzwerktag.jpg
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
Perturbations simplify the study of “super photons”

Thousands of particles of light can merge into a type of “super photon” under suitable conditions. Physicists call such a state a photon Bose-Einstein condensate. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now shown that this exotic quantum state obeys a fundamental theorem of physics. This finding now allows one to measure properties of photon Bose-Einstein condensates which are usually difficult to access. The study has been published in the journal “Nature Communications.”

Dr. Julian Schmitt Presented with Industrie-Club Award for Quantum Gas Research

Dr. Julian Schmitt from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Bonn has been presented with the Industrie-Club Düsseldorf’s Science Award for 2024 in recognition of his outstanding work studying quantum gases of photons. The accolade is worth €20,000. 

Bessel Research Prize for Ofer Firstenberg

Prof. Dr. Ofer Firstenberg from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, has been awarded a Bessel Research Prize by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award, which is endowed with 45,000 euros, is considered an outstanding honor, especially for younger scientists, and is awarded to scientists abroad. 

International research team cracks a hard physics problem

Strongly interacting systems play an important role in quantum physics and quantum chemistry. Stochastic methods such as Monte Carlo simulations are a proven method for investigating such systems. However, these methods reach their limits when so-called sign oscillations occur. This problem has now been solved by an international team of researchers from Germany, Turkey, the USA, China, South Korea and France using the new method of wavefunction matching. As an example, the masses and radii of all nuclei up to mass number 50 were calculated using this method. The results agree with the measurements, the researchers now report in the journal “Nature”.

Current Call

TRA² - Transdisciplinary Research Prize (deadline: April 7, 2024)

The University of Bonn Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs) aim to jointly support highly innovative, transdisciplinary collaborative research projects from researchers from at least two different TRAs. The funded projects should address new and relevant questions at the interface between disciplines or should aim at the development of new tools, which push the borders of existing research questions.

The innovative and cross-disciplinary nature of the proposal is the most important requirement for funding. A continuation of already established projects will not be funded.

The successful proposals (up to three) will receive a funding of up to 50.000 EUR. This funding can be freely used for the described project within DFG funding regulations and should ideally be spent in 2024.

Expected are joint applications from at least two project leaders from at least two different TRAs, working in different research areas. Only university members of the TRAs are eligible to apply.

Funding can also be awarded to postdocs who are members of a TRA or are hosted within the group of a university TRA member.

The proposal should contain a convincing and conclusive description of the planned project and its innovative and inter-/transdisciplinary character. With respect to Open Science, the proposal should also briefly describe how the results of the proposed project will be disseminated and how researchers from Bonn and beyond will be able to profit from or be able to access the expected results.

Application deadline is April 7, 2024.

Events & Offers

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

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)


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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