The propensity of open dynamical systems to break symmetries and generate patterns, structures and functions – in other words: to self-organize – is one of the fascinating and ubiquitious conditions in nature. It is visible on large scales in the emergence of planets, stars, galaxies and clusters of galaxies, on intermediate scales in cloud formation, turbulence, and swarming phenomena, and on smaller scales in neural networks like the human brain, or even the nano-scale functions of life on the cellular and sub-cellular level. An essential property of these systems is that they dwell far from thermal equilibrium. From the quest for possible general principles underlying self-organization phenomena to in-depth investigations focused on particularly relevant systems, research at the MPIDS spans a wide arc. This endeavour is the mission of the MPIDS.
The Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization consists presently of three departments and six independent Max Planck Research groups.
We are investigating the dynamics of a variety of complex nonlinear systems both experimentally and theoretically. Our interests are currently focused on biocomplexity in cell-biology, Lagrangian properties of fully developed turbulence, pattern formation and spatio-temporal chaos, and the Geodynamics of the earth's crust.
A complex fluid consists of (a large number of) similar mobile entities which are complex enough by themselves to preclude a straightforward prediction of the collective behaviour of the whole. Our research aims at understanding emergent phenomena in complex fluids, in particular in active fluids. We hope to identify suitable model systems which yield insight into overarching principles of self-organization in systems as diverse as granular flows, swarming of plankton particles, or patterns in traffic flow. One challenging question is: are there general common ‘principles’ behind the various instances of symmetry breaking, structure formation, and emergence in open systems? How does nature proceed from ‘being’ to ‘becoming’?
Since March 2018, Prof. Ramin Golestanian from Oxford University is a new director heading the department ‘Living Matter Physics’. The department is engaged in a wide range of theoretical research aimed at a multi-scale understanding of the dynamics of living systems from a physical perspective.