DCF Research groups

DCF Research groups

The group is engaged in experimental studies of liquid crystals and similar materials at interfaces. Main topics are wetting, anchoring, and other interface-induced phenomena, defects in smectic films, and the use of liquid-crystal structures for new self-organizing soft matter systems. [more]
A growing number of experimental techniques relies heavily on short-pulse lasers. Our laser facility delivers pico- as well as femtosecond pulses mainly used for experiments that take advantage of non-linear optical processes (e.g., multiphoton laser-scanning microscopy, Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering microscopy). [more]
We study systems that involve a 'human component'. We try to find 'the right' tools to understand social systems on various scales – from minimal model systems showing collective behavior (e.g. emergence of cooperation) to societal transformations (e.g. towards sustainable mobility). We apply methods from statistical physics, computer simulations, as well as empirical data analysis. [more]
Symmetry breaking and pattern formation are striking collective phenomena which can be observed in many systems far from thermal equilibrium. Well-known examples are the swarming of starlings, patterns in bacterial colonies, laning in colloidal suspensions, thermal convection, or the stop-and-go waves in a traffic jam. A primordial example is the clustering of the granular dust in the accretion discs surrounding young stars, which eventually leads to the formation of planets, such as Earth. [more]
The group investigates the behavior of complex fluids at their interfaces with solids and gases. For instance, ball pens work well on paper, but would typically fail on glass. The reason for this is the different interaction of the ink, a complex fluid, with the different kinds of surfaces. The impact of our projects spans from everyday occurrence (e.g. paper) over Biology to computer technology (silicon microchips). [more]

Independent research groups

Group funded by the Heisenberg program of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

I am interested in structure formation, self organization, spontaneous symmetry breaking (in and out of equilibrium), and dynamic arrest with focus on the underlying microscopic processes. The physics of low dimensional systems is often more complex and possesses a richer variety of excited states compared to 3D systems. Examples range from Quantum Hall effect for 2D electron ensembles in MOSFET or Dirac cones in Graphene to classical systems and their phase transitions in 2D. [more]

Overarching Projects

Our global and local environment, as well as our society, are currently undergoing rapid transformation. Conventional planning models for mobility, freight transport and resource management are overstrained by these developments. The consequences are traffic congestion and high levels of air pollution in urban centers on the one hand, and desertification, squalidness and population ageing in the surrounding rural areas on the other. On the basis of state-of-the-art digital technology and statistic-physical modelling, RegioMotion develops high-performance concepts for the interlinking of communication, mobility and transport services that aim to achieve an optimal quality of life and services of general interest in both rural and urban living spaces, while at the same time minimizing individual traffic volumes (project description in German). [more]
What happens if a droplet moves over solid that is so soft that it gets deformed by the capillary action of the droplet? And what if the solid would also responds to the contacting liquid by changing its surface properties? How would that change the dynamics of wetting or dewetting i.e., the rate at which the drop moves? And wouldn’t it be useful if, by some trick, we could change the surface “on demand” to be water-repellent or not? Nature plays these tricks every day, as in the water-repellent plumage of a kingfisher, or the slippery surface of carnivore plants on which not even insects can grab a hold. Such and similar questions are addressed in the newly established SPP 2171, to which Stefan Karpitschka is serving as a member of the coordination board, and his group is participating in this joint research effort. [more]
The Max Planck-University of Twente Center for Complex Fluid Dynamics is an interdisciplinary platform shared between the MPI for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen, the MPI for Polymer Research in Mainz, and the University of Twente in Enschede, The Netherlands. Together, we aim to understand the complexities inherent to multi-component fluids on all length scales, from nanoscopic surface interactions to large-scale turbulent flows. The Groups of Stefan Karpitschka and Corinna Maass are participating in the Center, both in the context of Marangoni-driven flows. These flows are popularly known from the “Tears of Wine” effect, and early research dates back even to the 19th century where Carlo Marangoni and James Clerk Maxwell were working on it. Even today we do not understand many aspects of this effect, primarily due to the complex nature of the liquids that show it. Recent technological advances, e.g. in ink-jet printing, are demanding a better knowledge, and, at the same time, bring advancements into tangible reach. [more]

Project Partners

Using droplet-based microfluidics we investigate the dynamics of micro- and nanostructures in two-phase fluids, from the organisation of amphiphilic molecules at interfaces to droplet stability, motion and actuation in microchannels. [more]
How does nature create complex morphologies and patterns out of simple building blocks? Structure formation in soft condensed matter on the micro- and nanoscale is controlled by intermolecular forces. On these lengths scales, interfaces may dominate the overall behavior. The research group studies instabilities of complex liquids in various geometries and applies novel experimental techniques to understand the dynamics of biological systems such as vesicles and cells at or near interfaces. [more]
Main research interests: wetting in stochasitc geometries, influence of substrate elasticity on wetting of regular and stochastic surface structures, morphological instabilites of liquid interface in regular wetting geometries, general considerations of droplet stability on chemically heterogeneous and/or topographic surfaces including line tension and electrostatic fields, adhesion of phospholipid vesicles to structured substrates, fluidic design issues of micromachined electrospray sources. [more]
On a liquid water micro-jet in vacuum the chemistry of aqueous solutions is studied by photoelectron spectroscopy with soft x-ray synchrotron radiation from BESSY. In cooperation with several theoretical and experimental groups, current studies include surface activity and alignment of molecular anions, electronic levels of solvated individual ions of transition metals, and of DNA in liquid water solution. [more]
This group aims to understand the solidification of complex fluids including soils and colloids. How do they freeze, or dry? How do they crack, change, order, or fail? Much of the work is inspired by simple geophysical patterns, such as mud cracks. We seek to understand how such patterns form, and what they imply about their host environment. [more]
Does a system of swimmers have to consist of living biological entities to move around and form swarms? Recent research in active particles and emulsions shows this is not the case. We aim to study hydrodynamics between droplets as well as collective interactions in a model system comprised of active liquid crystal droplets. [more]
Today we can manipulate matter down to the atomic scale and this ability allows us to control and explore the rich and still vastly unknown features of systems away from equilibrium. In this group we employ computer simulations to understand the behavior of complex liquids and nonequilibrium systems. Our main goal is to identify the driving mechanisms of matter organization. [more]
Granular media like sand, sugar or snow can exhibit physical properties similar to those of ordinary solids, liquids and sometimes even glasses. However, due to their dissipative interactions and their geometrical constraints a new type of statistical mechanics is needed to describe them. [more]
We are currently working on three topics: Discrete microfluidics Wet granular media and muliphase flow in porous media Wetting of viscoelastic and topographically structured surfaces [more]

Former Projects

Scientists from different of our research groups are contributing to the "Göttingen exploration of Microscale oil reservoir physics - GeoMorph", funded by BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd. [more]
MaxSynBio In Spring 2015, the joint research network "MaxSynBio" on synthetic biology was launched. Its visionary long-term goal is the creation of artificial cells, for which we are investigating the scientific basis. Nine Max Planck institutes and the university of Erlangen-Nuremberg are involved in this network, which is funded by the Max Planch society and the BMBF (German ministry for education and research) for three years. From our department, the group of Oliver Bäumchen is involved in the project. [more]
The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) established of a new Priority Program “Microswimmers – From Single Particle Motion to Collective Behaviour” (SPP 1726) in 2014. The program is scheduled to run for six years. The major focus of the priority program is the understanding of biological microswimmers, the design and understanding of artificial microswimmers and the cooperative behavior and "swarming" of ensembles of microswimmers. Our research groups around Corinna Maaß and Oliver Bäumchen contribute to the program. [more]
The collaborative research center CRC 937 aims at a quantitative understanding of the physical mechanisms at work when soft and biological matter self-organizes into complex structures to perform dynamic functions such as cell division, cell locomotion or tissue development. With this goal in mind, we plan to analyze the ways, in which macromolecules and cells interact physically, exert forces, respond viscoelastically, move each other, and self-organize into complex functional patterns. [more]
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