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Kierfeld Group

Professorship for Theoretical Physics: Soft Matter Theory

Welcome to our website

We are glad that you have found your way to us!

Here we, the Kierfeld Group, introduce ourselves. You can find in­for­mation about our working group, re­search and teaching activities.

The re­search group deals with soft matter theory and biological physics under the direction of Prof. Dr. Jan Kierfeld. We study statistical physics, mechanics and hydrodynamics of soft and biological matter using analytical and numerical methods. In the soft matter field, the main interests are polymer physics, rheology of elastic materials such as capsules or shells, active self-propelled systems, and micro-floats. We are also actively developing new Monte Carlo simulation techniques (event-chain Monte Carlo) and new applications of machine learning in soft matter physics. In biological physics, cytoskeletal filaments (actin and microtubules) are the main topic. They convert chemical energy (ATP or GTP) during their polymerization to generate forces and motion at the cellular level. We study the physics of single filaments to bundles and networks of many filaments, and from equilibrium fluctuation to chemical drive by polymerization or molecular motors.

Research Topics

Soft matter, Biological physics,
Statistical physics of fluctuating systems at the interface of condensed/soft matter physics, materials science, chemical physics, and biology:

  • Semiflexible polymers and biological filaments
    • Polymerization kinetics and force gen­era­tion in the cytoskeleton
    • Coupling of hydrolysis and polymerization
    • Chemomechanical models of microtubule dynamics
    • Microtubule dynamics in the mitotic spindle
    • Unbinding, desorption, adsorption
    • Filament bundles and networks
    • Localization in random potentials
    • Active filament systems, gliding assays, interaction with molecular motors
  • Elastic shells, capsules, and polymer networks
    • Modelling and shape analysis of elastic capsules
    • Machine learning in shape analysis
    • Elastic instabilities: buckling and wrinkling
    • Elastic properties of semiflexible polymer networks
    • Capsules as microswimmers
  • Novel simulation algorithms (event-chain Monte Carlo)
    • Soft matter applications: polymers, colloids, liquid crystals
  • Wetting morphologies
  • Crack propagation
  • Surface growth, self-assembly
  • Vortex matter in type-II/high-Tc superconductors
  • Topological defects, plasticity


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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Campus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dort­mund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Campus). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from North Campus to South Campus by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Campus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station (“Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop “Dort­mund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dort­mund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on North Campus. One (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Campus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Campus and offers a direct connection to South Campus every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.

Site Map of TU Dortmund University (Second Page in English).