Understanding and Application of Biological Information Processes

Living cells process information in an extraordinarily efficient manner. The underlying biological processes and mechanisms involving detection, integration, and processing of external signals are fundamentally different from the principles governing current information technology systems. We employ the combination of experiment, theory, and simulation to quantitatively study these information processes. Our goal is to achieve an understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying biological information processes and contribute to the development of a revolutionary novel information technology based on the principles of biological information processing.  

Focus of our Research

Stained neuronal network

Cell communication

We investigate how cells and cell assemblies communicate with each other by exchanging chemical and electrical signals. One of our main focuses is on signal processing in the human brain.

Stained cytoskeleton

Cell biomechanics

We investigate the biomechanics of living cells using modern methods of biophysics and cell biology. We are interested in the mechanics of the cells themselves, how they move or adhere to their environment.

Graphic of synapses on cells


We investigate the connection between biological and electronic systems, among other things for the production of highly sensitive sensors. These can be used, for example, to detect pollutants or develop implants to replace destroyed sensory cells.

Video simulation of moving particles

Collective Phenomena in Biological Systems

We investigate phenomena resulting from simultaneous interactions between many particles, such as biomacromolecules and red blood cells. We aim to quantitavely understand the dynamics, kinetics and self-organization of these systems at the macromolecular level, both in equilibrium and imbalance, and under the influence of external stimuli.

Understanding Life in Motion

Life in Motion

Living matter is characterized by activity and energy consumption. What are the structures, dynamics, and collective behaviours, which develop under such non-equilibrium conditions? We employ theoretical methods and numerical simulations to address such questions in systems from macromolecules* to cells and tissues.

Synthesis and folding of proteins

Protein folding

How do the polypeptide chains which are synthesized at the ribosome find their specific spatial structure? We develop and make use of techniques in order to understand the link between synthesis and the folding of proteins.

Protein structure with active centre

Complex interactions

We study the atomic structure of macromolecules involved in crucial cellular processes and the interactions between them. In addition, we develop novel methods for the early detection and therapy of neurodegenerative diseases.

Graphic of polymer threads

Learning from neutrons

Neutron scattering shows us how the internal structure and local dynamics of macromolecular materials determine their properties and functions. This allows us to uncover key mechanisms in, for example, the processing of plastics or the folding of proteins.

News and Events

Illustration IAPP-Fibrille

New Indication of a Link Between Alzheimer’s and Diabetes

Pathological protein clumps are characteristic of a series of diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes. Scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, and Maastricht University have now used cryo-electron microscopy to obtain a sharp image for the first time of how individual molecules are arranged in protein strings, which constitute the deposits typical for diabetes.

International Conference

Online Conference Motile Active Matter

The motility of cells and microorganisms is a cornerstone of the existence of life and an outstanding achievement of evolution.



Within the JARA research alliance, the JARA-SOFT group undertakes multi-disciplinary soft matter research to address current open questions in material sciences and biophysics.


International Helmholtz Research School of Biophysics and Soft Matter

The International Helmholtz Research School of Biophysics and Soft Matter (IHRS BioSoft) provides excellent research opportunities for PhD projects at the interfaces between biology, chemistry, and physics.

Spring School 2020

The IFF Spring School

Close-up on research: every year, the two-week IFF Spring School for students and young scientists deals with a current topic in physics - and has done so since 1970.