Jump directly to the page contents

The Research Field Matter - from the Microworld to the Whole Universe

Matter is the basic material of our existence. Stars and planets are made of it, as are humans and microbes.

Credit: European XFEL/Blue Clay Studios

The Helmholtz Research Field Matter explores the most diverse facets - from the tiny elementary particles to the big picture, the cosmos: How has the universe developed since the Big Bang? And what do the basic building blocks of matter look like, what holds them together? Both questions are closely related: Those particles that had been created in the first moments of the universe had decisively shaped its development.

Furthermore, the research area investigates those regions that lie between these two extremes - for example crystals, plastics or proteins. Their properties are determined by the interaction of the atoms and molecules that make them up. And the more precisely we understand the highly complex interplay of these atoms and molecules, the more precisely we can develop new high-tech materials,electronic materials and medicines. By analyzing the microscopic structure of a wide variety of materials, we are not only creating insights that are sometimes completely unexpected, but also essential foundations for future innovations.

To achieve its goals, Helmholtz operates a number of top-class large-scale research facilities. For example, the synchrotron radiation sources PETRA III in Hamburg and BESSY II in Berlin provide high-intensity X-ray light that can be used to analyze the structure of nanomaterials and biomolecules down to the atom. Helmholtz is also significantly involved in numerous international research facilities - such as the world's most powerful X-ray laser, the European XFEL in Hamburg, or the experiments at the world's largest particle accelerator, the LHC, at CERN in Geneva. In the future, further scientific beacons will be added: FAIR, the world's most powerful accelerator complex for nuclear and hadron physics, is being built in Darmstadt. This deals with the study of all particles containing the tiny elementary particles quarks, known as hadrons. Among other things, FAIR will provide answers to the question of how the chemical elements inside a star are "baked" in detail.

The Research Field Matter works closely with other Helmholtz fields as well as with universities, companies and research organizations in Germany and abroad. In this way, it creates synergies between basic and application-oriented research and continues to develop into a magnet for young scientists.

The Research Field Matter has created a new platform to promote knowledge transfer and public presentation. Through the knowledge transfer activities, scientific findings are to be made accessible to society and brought into application. It also aims to share basic knowledge with society. Users now have the opportunity to virtually explore major research infrastructures and access public research data and software.

Highlights

  • Matter

    Large-scale research facilities offer a unique scientific environment and are of crucial importance for Germany and Europe in many respects – says Beate Heinemann, Director of Particle Physics at…

  • Matter

    New experiments will help to investigate the mysterious structure of the quantum vacuum. The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf is involved in the design and implementation.

  • Matter

    In 2013, Kathrin Valerius was given her Helmholtz Young Investigator Group at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. She has remained loyal to the center and is now a professor of astroparticle…

  • Energy, Matter

    The question of the next steps toward nuclear fusion energy is hotly debated in the Helmholtz Association right now. Wim Leemans is an expert in laser plasma acceleration and chairman of the Helmholtz…

  • Matter

    Neutrinos from the galactic disc of the Milky Way were recently detected. Now researchers are setting their sights on new goals.

  • Matter

    An international research team has succeeded in creating conditions in the laboratory as extreme as those that prevail inside stars. The experiments provide important insights for understanding suns…

Contact

Helmut Dosch

Research field coordinator Matter
Deutsche Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

Dr. Ilja Bohnet

Chief Research Manager Matter
Helmholtz Association

As curious as we are? Discover more.