From Technical University of Darmstadt [Technische Universität Darmstadt] (DE) : “From Heavy Ion and Neutron Star Collisions to the Big Bang”

Technische Universität Darmstadt

From Technical University of Darmstadt [Technische Universität Darmstadt] (DE)

May 25, 2021

Collaborative Research Centre Transregio 211 to be funded for another four years.

The Collaborative Research Centre Transregio “Strongly Interacting Matter under Extreme Conditions”, a joint initiative of the Technical University of Darmstadt, Goethe University [Goethe-Universität] Frankfurt(DE) and Bielefeld University [Universität Bielefeld] (DE), has been investigating the most extreme states of matter found in the universe since July 2017. Now the German Research Foundation -DFG [Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft] (DE) is funding this Transregio (SFB-TRR) 211 for another four years with 8.9 million euros. The new spokesperson is Professor Guy Moore, nuclear physicist at TU Darmstadt. He takes over this function from Professor Dirk Rischke, who researches and teaches at Goethe University Frankfurt. The Transregio also strengthens the cooperation within the Strategic Alliance of Rhine-Main Universities [Rhein-Main Universitäten] (DE)(RMU), which Goethe University Frankfurt, TU Darmstadt, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz [Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz] (DE) formed in 2015.

The SFB-TR 211 investigates the collision of heavy ions and neutron stars under extreme conditions. The simulation image shows the density of two neutron stars that have merged. Picture: L. Rezzolla, Goethe-Uni Frankfurt.

What happens when normal matter is compressed or heated so much that the atomic nuclei overlap and fuse together? Matter then enters a new state whose properties are determined by the “strong interactions,” i.e., the force that binds the protons and neutrons together in the atomic nucleus. This strong interaction also generates the binding between the inner building blocks of the protons and neutrons – the quarks and gluons – and these fundamental building blocks ultimately dominate the properties of matter under extreme conditions.

Such boundary-breaking environmental influences – such as temperatures of more than a trillion degrees and densities of more than one hundred million tonnes per cubic centimetre, which are many orders of magnitude higher than in the centre of the sun – are achieved in heavy ion collisions, which are currently being experimentally investigated at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (US) in New York, at the Large Hadron Collider (CH) (LHC) at European Organization for Nuclear Research [Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire] [Europäische Organisation für Kernforschung](CH) [CERN] in Geneva, and in the near future at the FAIR accelerator facility in Darmstadt.

Furthermore, such conditions also prevail during the merging of neutron stars, which are among the most powerful astrophysical events and were detected for the first time in 2017 by measuring gravitational waves. Similar conditions also occurred in the first 10 microseconds after the Big Bang and therefore have an impact on the structure and content of the universe today.

Reasons enough, therefore, to investigate the theoretical basis of strongly interacting matter more intensively and to predict its behaviour in experiments, astrophysics, and cosmology. This is the main purpose of the SFB-TRR 211, a collaboration of 24 project leaders and their working groups, with a total of more than 100 researchers involved in 13 subprojects. They explore the theoretical underpinnings of the theory using large-scale numerical investigations on supercomputers using the tools of lattice gauge theory, and also by utilising analytical attempts to probe this fundamental interaction. At the same time, they apply these theoretical advances to make predictions of specific experimental and astrophysical phenomena. The combined expertise of the scientists from the three partner universities is unique worldwide.

The new spokesperson of TRR 211, Professor Guy Moore, says: “We are thrilled that the DFG has recognised our expertise and hard work over the last few years and look forward to continuing our research until mid-2025 – and hopefully in a third funding period in the future.”

See the full article here.


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Technical University of Darmstadt [Technische Universität Darmstadt] (DE) is a research university in the city of Darmstadt, Germany. It was founded in 1877 and received the right to award doctorates in 1899. In 1882, it was the first university in the world to set up a chair in electrical engineering. In 1883, the university founded the first faculty of electrical engineering and introduced the world’s first degree course in electrical engineering. In 2004, it became the first German university to be declared as an autonomous university. TU Darmstadt has assumed a pioneering role in Germany. Computer science, electrical engineering, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, business informatics, political science and many more courses were introduced as scientific disciplines in Germany by Darmstadt faculty.

TU Darmstadt founded the IT-Cluster Rhine-Main-Neckar, the “Silicon Valley of Germany”. The Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Goethe University [Goethe-Universität] Frankfurt(DE) and the Technische Universität Darmstadt together form the Rhine-Main-Universities (RMU). TU Darmstadt is a member of TU9, a network of the most notable German Technische Universitäten (universities of technology) and of the Top Industrial Managers for Europe network, which allows for student exchanges between leading engineering schools.

According to the Förderatlas 2018 of the German Research Foundation, the university received the highest number of competitive grants in the field of computer science from the German Research Foundation. TU Darmstadt together with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence were selected as partner of the German “Federal Government’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy”. TU Darmstadt operates ATHENE, the largest research institute for cybersecurity in Europe.

Graduates of TU Darmstadt include Nobel Prize winners, entrepreneurs, managers, billionaires and politicians. As of September 2019, the university is associated with 4 Nobel laureates and 3 Wolf Prize in Physics laureates. For several years, TU Darmstadt has been one of the universities with the most top managers in the German economy. The university is currently among the top 3. The graduates include Oliver Zipse, Peter Grünberg, Chaim Weizmann and John Tu. Nobel laureate Albert Einstein recommended this university.

Since 2013, 95 companies have been founded in the vicinity of the university.

Research profile

TU Darmstadt defined six profile areas which characterize its research profile:

Thermo-fluids and interfaces
Future energy systems
From material to product innovation
Cybersecurity (CYSEC)
Internet and digitisation
Matter and radiation science


At TU Darmstadt there are several Sonderforschungsbereiche (SFB, collaborative research units) as well as several Graduiertenkollegs (graduate schools) that are funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The university has attracted a considerable number of national and international research institutions to the Wissenschaftsstadt Darmstadt (Darmstadt – City of Science). Among them are:

GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI)
Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT
Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD
Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability
European Space Operations Centre (ESOC)
European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellite (EUMETSAT).

TU Darmstadt collaborates with these research institutes on a broad basis. For instance, TU Darmstadt and GSI agreed on a strategic partnership, which includes collaboration in the establishment of the FAIR Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research.

The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) has set up a research laboratory at TU Darmstadt, ESA_LAB@TU Darmstadt. It is the first research laboratory the European Space Agency has set up at a German university.

In 2018, TU Darmstadt has won the competition of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and is building an Institute for Manufacturing together with 50 partners including Siemens, Volkswagen, KUKA, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and Volvo. There will be an EIT Manufacturing Innovation Hub at the university.

TU Darmstadt is involved in the German Excellence Initiative. This initiative sponsored the Cluster of Excellence Smart Interfaces (2007–2014), the Graduate School of Computational Engineering and the Graduate School of Excellence Energy Science and Engineering. TU Darmstadt is also partially involved with the Cluster of Excellence Normative Orders, based at Goethe University Frankfurt.