Institute for condensed matter physics
Condensed matter physics deals with fluids and solids composed of a macroscopic number of particles. In the past, the focus was on “hard” materials such as semiconductors and metals. In recent years, many researchers became interested in “soft” materials, and they are now the main research area of our Institute. Soft materials are for instance polymers, emulsions, gels, rubber, sediments, and many more, including biologically produced materials.
In contrast to hard materials, which are usually homogeneous on mesoscopic scales, soft materials are structured on different hierarchy levels, and they have a variety of different characteristic time scales. This complexity presents a great challenge to the scientific investigation. The aim is to understand the macroscopic properties such as viscosity, elasticity, electric conductivity etc and their dependence on external parameters (pressure, temperature) in terms of the microscopic structure. This requires not only the collaboration between experimental and theoretical physicists, but also with chemists, who can produce materials with a desired structure and composition, and with engineers, who are interested in the technological applications.