Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems

Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems

In reality, there is no magnetic monopole – the north and south poles of a magnet are usually assumed to be inseparable. However, a magnetic monopole can occur in certain magnetic solids, as researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems have discovered. Such a solid represents a complex system in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts – this is why even a magnetic monopole can occur. The physicists develop theories regarding such phenomena: not only in solids, but also in individual atoms, molecules or in small groups of atoms, where they interact with light, for example. They also want to understand the physical principles behind cell division or the transport system in biological cells. As different as these systems are, their complex behaviour is largely based on the same principles.


Nöthnitzer Str. 38
01187 Dresden
Phone: +49 351 871-0
Fax: +49 351 871-1999

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS for Quantum Dynamics and Control

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

The pioneer of paleogenetics, Svante Pääbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology sitting on a chair on a stage, wearing a grey suit and glasses,facing towards a female moderator. He was answering questions during the ceremonial event commemorating the 30-year anniversary of the Max Planck Society in Leipzig and Dresden.

On September 4, 2023, Minister-President Michael Kretschmer and Max Planck President Patrick Cramer hosted a ceremonial event at the Kulturpalast in Dresden commemorating the 30-year success story of the Max Planck Society in Leipzig and Dresden. 


Differences between individuals reduce the number of infections required for herd immunity


First six reference-quality bat genomes released and analysed.


Genes lost in whales and dolphins helped adapting to an aquatic environment


Mammals have profited repeatedly in evolution from losing genes

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Storms, droughts and extreme rainfall could become more frequent due to global warming. At any rate, climate researchers are discussing this eventuality and are analyzing measured data to determine whether such a trend can already be observed. Holger Kantz and his colleagues at Dresden’s Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems are developing the necessary statistical tools.

What do soccer and quantum mechanics have in common? Both have surprising twists in store that are difficult to predict. Soccer, however, at least follows some rules that are more or less reliable. As a striker, Jens Hjörleifur Bárdarson controls the ball; as a physicist, he masters the rules of the quantum universe. The 35-year-old researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden studies atomic particles, which display many a tricky move.

Head of Visitors Program (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Dresden June 24, 2024

New dance movements for electrons in superconductors 

2024 Wietek, Alexander

Complex Systems Material Sciences Solid State Research

When a solid becomes superconducting, two electrons join together to form so-called Cooper pairs, which perform the same coordinated movement in unison. Modern computer simulations of high-temperature superconductors give us new insights into how exactly Cooper pairs move. We are discovering a new state of matter in which pairs not only rotate around themselves in the plane, but also form particularly acrobatic spins in the third dimension, similar to somersaults in dance.


Transport of microswimmers in complex media

2022 Christina Kurzthaler

Complex Systems Material Sciences Solid State Research

Locomotion by swimming and the ability to randomly change their swimming direction are important ingredients for the survival strategy of many micro-organisms in their often densely packed environments. Using computer simulations and modeling we identified a geometric criterion, which predicts that micro-swimmers can spread most effectively, when the length they swim before they reorient corresponds roughly to the length of the longest pore of the porous medium. This finding could be important for the design of new cargo-carriers, which should be capable of operating in complex environments. 


Statistics of Turing patterns in complex biochemical systems

2021 Haas, Pierre A.

Complex Systems Developmental Biology Mathematics

The simplest mathematical mechanism of pattern formation is the so-called Turing mechanism, but the contribution of the resulting Turing patterns to actual biochemical patterns and structures has remained debated because the mechanism requires, in simple systems, unrealistic values of chemical parameters. By means of a statistical analysis, we were able to show that this is not however the case in more complex systems with more chemical species. This stresses the role of the interplay between simple and complex models in understanding the world that surrounds us.


Dynamics of Droplets in Living Cells

2020 Weber, Christoph A.

Cell Biology Complex Systems

The physics of phase separation and the formation of protein-rich droplets play an important role for biochemical processes in living cells. The shape, size and composition of such droplets can change with time and thereby affect biochemical reactions. Such reactions also affect the dynamics of droplets. Obtaining insights into this interplay is key to better understand the mechanisms underlying the spatio-temporal organization of biological cells.


Universal behaviour of clones in developing tissues

2019 Rulands, Steffen

Complex Systems Developmental Biology

The formation of complex tissues and organs during embryonic development relies on the tightly regulated interplay between many cells. The behaviour of these cells is reflected in the time evolution of their progeny, termed clones, which serve as a key experimental observable. We showed that the time evolution of the progeny of such cells, termed clones, follows universal behaviour which is independent of the biological context. The identification of such universal behaviour allows specific information about the behaviour of stem cells information to be distilled from experiments.

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