Photo: Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn

Research - TRA Matter

Exploring nature at different distance scales, to understand how the building blocks of matter interact and how structure and dynamics evolves are key research interests of the TRA Matter.

© Bialek/Uni Bonn
Forschungsprofil TRA Matter
© Peter Vöhringer / Uni Bonn

Research profile

Following the hierarchy of length scales, it is structured in the following research areas (particle physics, molecular sciences, quantum technology and astronomy).

Shortly explained: The research areas of TRA Matter

Starting at subnuclear length scales (10-19m-10-14m), in experimental high-energy particle and hadron physics (Higgs boson and beyond, spectrum of QCD) we perform frontier experiments at CERN, KEK and soon FAIR, as well as at the local accelerator ELSA. Success in this area is driven by precision experiments and searches for new phenomena, complemented by strong theoretical physics ranging from ultra-precise calculations and model building to mathematical physics. This research is heavily based on coordinated research programs. Planned developments in the direction of High Performance Computing and data engineering as well as detector physics, exploiting the new infrastructure FTD (including the existing accelerators), provide excellent opportunities for future developments and discoveries.

At the atomic and molecular length scale (10-10m-10-6m), focal points of our research are in the areas of Theoretical Chemistry, Supramolecular Chemistry, and Chemistry at Spin Centers. Synergistically combining our three core strengths around a forward-looking research topic, the field of (nano)engineering of functional biohybrid superstructures is entered. The controlled arrangement of the chemical, electrochemical and biomolecular components/devices requires the development of novel synthetic and analytical tools with improved spatial and temporal precision. We will pursue functionalities like energy conversion and storage, activation of inert molecules, and (bio)molecular transport, thereby responding to the ever-increasing demand for sustainable technologies that contribute to environmental and human health.

At length scales of 10-7m-10-4m, Quantum Science and Technology with atoms, photons, and their condensates will play a central role for the creation of novel states of matter, actively pursued in the cluster of excellence ML4Q. The results from basic science will trigger new applications in quantum sensing, communication and computation. Advances will be fostered by further tightened control of experimental platforms with challenges for precision measurements at very low energies and at the border to the macroscopic world. The complexity of the systems will be accompanied by ever increasing volumes of data, e.g. resolving many-particle systems with single-particle precision, asking for efficient data handling and analysis strategies.

At the largest scales (~10+4m-10+25m), we are major contributors to the eROSITA and the forthcoming Euclid satellite missions, which will provide milestones in cosmological measurements, determine properties of dark energy and unravel possible deviations of the laws of gravity from General Relativity. The huge amount of data will require new approaches in data handling and their statistical analysis. These will present unprecedented challenges to the precision of models and cosmological simulations. With the newly built CCAT-prime telescope in Chile, our radio astronomers will pursue a similar objective with the precision measurements of galaxy clusters to map the large-scale kinematics of the Universe, and will probe the first population of star-forming galaxies at the end of cosmic dark ages.

Stories from the lab

© Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

Chemistry with physical methods

For her research at the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, Jeannine Gleim studies supercritical chemical substances. 

Tim Vogler
© Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

Free radicals and high-power lasers

At the interface between physics and chemistry, Tim Vogler's goal is to visualize the fate of highly reactive, and therefore short-lived, particles in liquids. 

Collaborative Resarch and Awards

Research Funding

TRA Matter scientists are involved in a large number of collaborative research projects that are thematically located in the field of "Matter". Here you can get an overview.


Researchers who are thematically located in the field of "Matter" have been awarded outstanding prizes. Here you can get an overview.

2 Leibniz Awards:
Prof. Dr. Stefan Grimme (2015), Prof. Dr. Michael Famulok (2002)
2 Humboldt-Professorships:
Prof. Dr. Michael Köhl (2013), Prof. Norbert Langer (2008)
4 ERC Starting Grants:
Dr. Julian Schmitt (2022), Jun. Prof. Dr. Ala Bunescu (2022), Jun. Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer (2017), Prof. Dr. Michael Köhl (2009)
5 ERC Consolidator Grants:
Prof. Claude Duhr (2022), Prof. Dr. Frank Bigiel (2016), Prof. Dr. Corinna Kollath (2014), Prof. Dr. Michael Köhl (2013), PD Dr. Markus Cristinziani (2013)
4 ERC Advanced Grant:
Prof. Ulf-G. Meißner (2021), Prof. Dr. Martin Weitz (2012), Prof. Dr. Dieter Meschede (2011), Prof. Dr. Michael Famulok (2010)
ERC Synergy Grant:
Prof. Sebastian Hofferberth (2022)
1 Emmy NoetherJunior Research Group:
Dr. Larissa von Krbek-Prömmel (2021)
Jun. Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer (Fulbright-Cottrell-Award 2021)

Read more about TRA Matter...

About TRA Matter

Mission, Objectives, Organisation




Members, Partners

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