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 Many-Particle Systems in Structured Environments

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

Gene loss can prove to be an advantage
Mammals have profited repeatedly in evolution from losing genes more
A smart grid –self-organised simply
Electricity supply and demand can be coordinated in an entirely decentralised way with the help of a new type of smart grid control. more
Green algae move to the beat

Green algae move to the beat

October 25, 2013
Max Planck researchers in Dresden explain the flagellar synchronisation of swimming algae more
Surviving amongst cannibals

Surviving amongst cannibals

September 21, 2012
Locusts move in swarms to avoid falling victim to their conspecifics more
In search of the key word
Bursts of certain words within a text are what make them keywords more
Eugene Myers will lead new Systems Biology Center
Max Planck Society founds new center in Dresden more

Sperm can do calculus!

March 07, 2012
The speed at which the calcium concentration in the cell changes controls the swimming behaviour of sperm. They can calculate the calcium dynamics and react accordingly. more
Following the crowd supports democracy
The majority can benefit when individuals are uninformed more
A new initiative for cooperation with South Korea has been launched
The foundation assembly of the joint Max Planck / Korea Research Initiative took place in Pohang, Korea more
Strong protection for weak passwords<br />
The combination of simple codes and Captchas, which are even more encrypted using a chaotic process, produces effective password protection more
Scientists find universal rules for food-web stability more
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.
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bacterial microcolonies as early forms of multicellular organisms

2017 Zaburdaev, Vasily; Pönisch, Wolfram
Complex Systems
Many pathogenic bacteria, for example Neisseria gonorrhoeae, form microcolonies, aggregates consisting of up to several thousands of cells, due to type IV pili. These filaments mediate attractive cell-cell-forces that affect the spatially-dependent dynamics of cells within the colony. This dynamic heterogeneity can then give rise to an altered gene expression pattern in the microcolony and thus changing the phenotypes of the cells. This behavior is reminiscent of early embryonic development and suggests a view on bacterial microcolonies as model multicellular organisms. more

Topological order and efficient simulations of fractional quantum Hall systems

2016 Pollmann, Frank
Complex Systems Material Sciences Solid State Research

Phases of matter are usually characterized by their symmetry breaking. With the Quantum Hall Effect, a completely new class of topological phases was discovered, which cannot be characterized by symmetry breaking. These phases have highly non-local excitations that could serve as ideal building blocks for a fault-tolerant quantum computer. To understand topological phases in realistic model systems, complicated quantum-many body systems have to be solved. This can be achieved by using new efficient algorithms based on insights from the field of quantum information.

The study of highly excited atoms has a long history in physics, starting from the early days of quantum mechanics to more recent developments of cavity-QED. In ultracold gases it is nowadays possible to precisely probe and utilize the remarkable properties of these atoms. more

Despite availability of many sequenced genomes, we know very little about which genomic changes underlie phenotypic differences between species. Forward Genomics is a new method that uses phenotypes with repeated evolutionary losses to find such associations between genomic and phenotypic differences. For vitamin C synthesis, an example of a repeatedly lost phenotype, the method can correctly pinpoint the vitamin C synthesizing enzyme, just based on a search for genes that evolve neutrally in all non vitamin C synthesizing species.


Wrinkles, channels, food and biofilms

2013 Zaburdaev, Vasily
Complex Systems Developmental Biology Microbiology
The mention of bacteria usually brings to mind the picture of a swimming cell, however, most bacteria on earth are stuck to surfaces and form complex communities – biofilms. Biofilms are responsible for myriad problems, including tooth decay and severe infections. Biofilms need food to grow and survive, but, as they expand, the diffusion of nutrients becomes too slow. Large organisms, such as humans, solve this problem by making blood vessels that rapidly carry food in our bodies.  We show that some biofilms form a similar network of channels which transport nutrients throughout the biofilm. more

Human dynamics in online discussion groups

2012 Altmann, Eduardo G.
Complex Systems
The access to internet data allows for unprecedented quantitative investigations of human activities.  An investigation of the communication between thousands of users across more than a decade will be reported here. The statistical analysis of word frequencies provides insights on the interests of the users and also on how language is used and changes. more
Methods of molecular quantum optics allow one to probe to what extent elementary quantum mechanical phenomena can be observed with complex objects and on large scales. The considered quantum effects range from spatially delocalized molecules consisting of more than one hundred atoms to the demonstration of quantum entanglement with respect to macroscopically distinguishable properties. more

Novel ordering phenomena in frustrated quantum magnets

2010 Läuchli, Andreas
Complex Systems Quantum Physics
Spin systems are mostly known for collective magnetic ordering behavior at low temperature. In this brief review two exotic possibilities for novel ground states driven by the interplay of magnetic frustration and quantum fluctuations are discussed together with prospects to experimentally observe these phases. more

Self-compression of high-intense laser pulses

2009 Skupin, Stefan
Complex Systems Plasma Physics Quantum Physics
The generation of shorter and shorter laser pulses is a great technological challenge. When trying to accomplish this task we have an important ally: the pulse itself. In so called Femtosecond Filaments self-compression of ultrashort light pulses is possible. more

Transcriptional pausing of RNA polymerase II

2008 Grill, Stephan
Complex Systems Genetics
To make the proteins in all of our cells, the genetic information that is stored in DNA is first copied to mRNA and then translated to the polypeptide chain. RNA polymerase II is responsible fort the first step, and it proceeds in a discontinuous fashion with about half of its time spent in pauses. Experimental and theoretical studies on single molecules of RNAP II identify a pause state that proceeds as a random walk, which can generate pauses of durations that bridge scales of time. more

Many-body effects in mesoscopic systems

2007 Hentschel, Martina
Complex Systems Solid State Research
Small systems with sizes on the micrometer scale behave differently from their bulk metal counterparts. This can be investigated by comparing the signatures of many-body effects. Indeed, electrons in those mesoscopic systems such as experimentally accessible quantum dots show a different response to a sudden perturbation than the conduction electrons in metals. This leads to characteristic deviations of the x-ray absorption properties from the well-understood metallic case. more

Ultracold plasmas and Rydberg gases

2006 Pattard, Thomas; Pohl, Thomas; Ates, Cenap; Rost, Jan-Michael
Complex Systems Plasma Physics
Ultracold plasmas and Rydberg gases give rise to a number of interesting questions based on the unusual properties of these systems. Extremely low temperatures on the one hand, and high electronic excitation together with negligible translational excitation on the other, call for a symbiosis of ideas and concepts from different fields of physics. more

Microscopic Topology and Macroscopic Elasticity of Polymers

2005 Everaers, Ralf
Complex Systems Material Sciences
The viscoselastic properties of high molecular weight polymeric liquids are dominated by topological constraints on a molecular scale. Similar to entangled ropes, polymer chains can slide past but not through each other. Tube models of polymer dynamics and rheology are based on the idea that entanglements confine a chain to small fluctuations around a primitive path. To provide a microscopic foundation for these highly successful phenomenological models, we have introduced a method for analyzing the microscopic topological state of polymeric liquids in terms of primitive paths. The resulting parameter-free predicitions for the plateau modulus agree with experiment for all major classes of synthetic polymers. more

Propagation of Laser Pulses

2004 Becker, Andreas
Complex Systems Plasma Physics Quantum Physics
Ultrashort intense laser pulses can propagate in air or other materials over large distances in so-called laser filaments. The filaments are mainly formed due to a balance of two nonlinear effects, the self-focusing of the pulse due to the optical Kerr effect and its defocusing from the plasma, which is generated by the laser pulse inside the material. Results from numerical simulations demonstrate the complex dynamics of the propagation of a laser pulse in air. Laser filaments can be potentially used for lightning control and for an analysis of pollution in the atmosphere. more
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