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 ICS Report 2009-2011 (PDF, 14 MB)

Institute of Complex Systems: Research in the Field of Biophysics and Soft
Biophysics and soft matter are concerned with the qualitative and quantitative understanding of structure and dynamics of complex macromolecules and their assemblies at various levels up to living cells. They represent a very dynamic and rapidly growing area of transdisciplinary research for solving fundamental problems and questions at the interface between physics, chemistry, and biology. Knowledge and techniques created by cutting-edge research in this field is essential for sustained rapid progress in biotechnology and life sciences, as well as nanotechnology and material sciences.
The Institute of Complex Systems (ICS) was founded in January 2011 to bundle the disciplinary, methodological, and technological competences in soft matter and biophysics research at Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) under a common roof.


 IFF Ergebnisbericht 2009 (PDF, 20 MB)

2009 has been a very eventful year for the IFF. To name but some highlights:
In March, the Peter Grünberg Centre officially opened. It constitutes the central platform for basic research in the field of nanoelectronics in the Jülich-Aachen region, and the first research institution in the field of nanoelectronics in Germany that is fully open to external users.
The IFF neutron researchers have secured funding worth around € 1.1 million as part of the 7th EU Framework Programme for the exploitation and further development of neutron scattering for European science. At the SNS in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the strongest neutron source in the world, a state-of-the-art neutron spin echo (NSE) spectrometer was inaugurated by the JCNS in November.
Also in November, work began with a groundbreaking ceremony for an extension to the Ernst-Ruska-Centre (ER-C) on the campus of Forschungszentrum Jülich. It will house a unique electron microscope with a world-beating resolution of 50 billionths of a millimetre.
Last, but not least, the "IFF Spring School" celebrated its 40th year running.
Please read on in the annual report 2009, where you will further find a typical cross section through the research conducted at the IFF in 2009, within the Helmholtz research programmes "Condensed Matter Physics", "Information Technology with Nanoelectronic Systems", and "Large-scale Facilities for Research with Photons, Neutrons, and Ions".

Persistent Identifier: urn:nbn:de:0001-2010051905

Soft-Matter Research for Society: The European Network of Excellence SoftComp

Soft matter is part and parcel of our everyday life and it carries with it a high potential for innovation. In 2004, 29 groups from scientific institutions and European companies joined forces in an effort to concentrate and consolidate multidisciplinary European research in the field of soft matter: The European Network of Excellence "Soft Matter Composites - An approach to nanoscale functional materials" (SoftComp) was founded. Permanent common structures were created - both in the area of scientific infrastructure and for the exchange of information and findings.

SoftComp know-how, for example, is used in the development of biosensors for medical purposes and the development of fuel-saving car tyres with a lower rolling resistance. The Jülich partners at the Institute of Solid State Research (IFF), for example, are working on environmentally friendly cleaning solutions for the printing industry and they conduct research on the flow behaviour of red blood cells. The brochure presents work conducted by the research network up to now and prospects for the next few years.

BioSoft Report 2008

BioSoft - Biophysics & Soft Matter

Macromolecules consisting of hundreds to thousands of atoms have many emergent properties, which are not present in small molecules. Prominent examples are linear polymers, which are constructed from a single or a few kinds of building blocks. Even simple synthetic polymers that are typically made from identical monomers allow the design of complex material properties that depend, for example, on their lengths, building blocks, cross linking, and potential combination with other polymers. Highly advanced methods often requiring large-scale facilities are used to investigate their fascinating properties. Also, the molecules of life, nucleic acids and proteins, are linear chain molecules, consisting of four and twenty different building blocks, respectively, in a strictly defined linear sequence. Thus, it is obvious that biological macromolecules have much more complex properties, the investigation of which requires the most advanced and - due to production limits - most sensitive methods available. Many interesting properties of macromolecules are based on their complex interactions among each other. This is especially true for the extremely specific interactions between proteins.

Biophysics and soft matter physics are concerned with the qualitative and quantitative description of structure and dynamics of complex macromolecules and their assemblies at various levels up to living cells.


IFF Scientific Report 2008

The annual report is intended to inform the international scientific community, including our scientific advisory board and the Helmholtz Association about the research activities of the IFF during the past year. We have attempted to present a typical cross section through the research conducted at the IFF, within the Helmholtz Research Programmes "Condensed Matter Physics", "Information Technology with Nanoelectronic Systems", and "Large-scale Facilities for Research with Photons, Neutrons, and Ions".

Title left: Aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy image of a thin film of the relaxor ferroelectric Ca0.28Ba0.72Nb2O6 on a SrTiO3 substrate (in false colours). Both the amorphous area on the left, and the complex structure of the material are clearly resolved.

Title right: The flow behavior of red blood cells in microcapillaries and microfluidic devices is governed by the deformability of the cells, their hydrodynamic interactions, and thermally induced cell membrane undulations. These mechanisms have been studied in silico. The state-of-the-art simulations predict that, at physiological hematocrit values, 3 distinct phases exist.

Persistent Identifier: urn:nbn:de:0001-00462

IFF Scientific Report 2007 (German/English)

Researchers at Jülich and Hamburg have discovered that in the case of magnetic structures nature prefers one form rather than its mirror image in thin metallic structures. Title picture, left: Homochiral magnetic order in a one-atomic layer thick film of Mn atoms on a W(110) surface. The local magnetic moments at Mn atoms shown as red and green arrows are aligned antiferromagnetically between nearest-neighbour atoms. Superimposed is a spiral pattern of unirotational direction. The picture shows a left-rotating cycloidal spiral, which was found in nature. The bottom picture shows the mirror image, a right rotating spiral, which does not exist. The work results from a collaboration between the IFF and the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Hamburg. The results have been published in Nature 447, p190 (2007).

Persistent Identifier: urn:nbn:de:0001-00493

IFF Scientific Report 2006

Scientists of the Institute of Solid State Research (IFF) have found a magnetic switching method which achieves the fastest speed ever reported by applying an external magnetic field. The figure shows the emission of spin-waves during the switching process.
In disk-shaped small magnets of about a micrometre the magnetization can naturally align to form vortex structures. These vortices have a centre called the "core", a region spanning about ten nanometres - the length of less than one hundred atoms. The vortex core is a region where the magnetization points perpendicular to the surface, either "up" or "down". This naturally lends itself to applications in binary data storage, especially as the magnetization direction is very stable. This stability is caused by the strongest force present in magnets, the so-called exchange interaction. Only by exploiting this force does it become possible to flip the core without applying very strong fields - that is what the scientists discovered with the help of computer simulations.

Persistent Identifier: urn:nbn:de:0001-00476

IFF Brochure

This publication is intended to give in-depth information about IFF's activities. You are invited to discover what makes research so fascinating and what IFF's contributions are. On 28 pages the brochure portrays the institute, its strategy, competences and instrumentation. We report on special achievements and the opportunities open to students and trainees. The brochure focuses on six interlinked research topics since our strengths are interdisciplinarity and cooperation. The topics range from innovative information technologies and winterized diesel fuel to methods for the computation of solids and liquids.




IFF Ergebnisbericht 2004 / 2005

Research reports

  • Condensed matter Electronic and Magnetic Phenomena from Matter to Materials Soft Matter and Biophysics.
  • Information technology with nanoelectronic systems Magnetroelectronics and Spintronics THz-Electronics Hysteretic Oxide-Based Memories.
  • Large scale facilities for research with photons, neutrons and ions.





IFF Ergebnisbericht 2002 / 2003

When a thin elastic foil with high shear modulus and low bending rigidity is crumpled by an external force, the stretching and bending energies are not distributed uniformly, but condense into localized folds and conical dislocations. A familiar example of such a material is paper. The crumpling process can be studied very well by computer simulations. The picture shows a circular piece of an originally flat, thin elastic sheet which has been compressed by a constant isotropic force to about a third of its original (linear) size. A characteristic pattern of folds has formed, which is shown here in the flat reference state. Colouring is used to indicate the sharpness of the folds where yellow means a nearly flat surface, blue indicates weakly curved regions while strongly curved folds are shown in red.