Mainz University receives millions in funding for excellent research: German Research Foundation extends funding for three collaborative research centers

Further funding periods for three CRCs involving Mainz-based scientists working in the fields of the materials sciences, nuclear physics, and at the Mainz University Medical Center

27 November 2019

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved the extension of three collaborative research centers, in which researchers from the fields of nuclear physics and materials sciences comprising solid state physics and chemistry and from the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are participating. Namely, the CRCs "Spin+X – Spin in its collective environment" and "Molecular and functional characterization of selective autophagy" of Mainz University will be funded for a further four years. The CRC "Nuclei: From fundamental interactions to structure and stars" of Technische Universität Darmstadt, in which physicists of JGU are involved for the first time, will also receive a further period of funding. The applications submitted to the German Research Foundation by these CRCs requested funding of more than EUR 30 million for all three projects. "These successful collaborative research projects make a valuable contribution to research at Mainz University in all its core research areas and represent a further validation of the success of our research strategy," emphasized JGU President Professor Georg Krausch. "Our recognition goes to the participating scientists from Mainz, whose outstanding research achievements support the important strategic goal of sustainably consolidating JGU's competitiveness among Germany's strong research universities."

CRC/TRR 173: Spin+X – Spin in its collective environment

The German Research Foundation will be funding the Collaborative Research Center/Transregio (SFB/TRR) "Spin+X – Spin in its collective environment" of TU Kaiserslautern and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz with approximately EUR 10 million over the next four years.

In this CRC, research teams active in the fields of physics, chemistry, and engineering are investigating fundamental magnetic properties and processes to evaluate their potential for possible applications. They focus on spin, a quantum mechanical phenomenon that is the basis of magnetism. New research technologies such as antiferromagnetic spintronics could make the storage of large amounts of data more efficient. Discoveries in spin research have been used for years in the development of new technologies such as magnetic memory chips and sensors.

The CRC/TRR "Spin+X – Spin in its collective environment" was first approved in 2016. It is coordinated by TU Kaiserslautern. The center involves the departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Mechanical and Process Engineering at TU Kaiserslautern as well as the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry at Mainz University. The second funding phase will begin in January 2020. Co-speaker in Mainz is Professor Mathias Kläui from the JGU Institute of Physics.

CRC 1177: Molecular and functional characterization of selective autophagy

The joint CRC 1177 "Molecular and functional characterization of selective autophagy" of Goethe University Frankfurt and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has again convinced the German Research Foundation of its research potential and will be funded for another four years with an estimated amount of about EUR 12 million. The interdisciplinary teams of biochemists, cell biologists, structural biologists, and physicians of CRC 1177 are investigating the complex relationship between cell renewal and cellular quality control.

The CRC 1177 focusing on selective autophagy involves cooperation between Goethe University Frankfurt as coordinating university and the Institute of Pathobiochemistry at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz as co-coordinating university. Co-speaker in Mainz is Professor Christian Behl. Other contributing partners are the Institute for Molecular Biology gGmbH in Mainz, the Georg-Speyer-Haus in Frankfurt, and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt as well as projects running at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, the University of Tübingen, and the University of Freiburg.

CRC 1245: "Nuclei: From fundamental interactions to structure and stars"

JGU scientists are also participating in CRC 1245 on "Nuclei: From fundamental interactions to structure and stars". Under the leadership of TU Darmstadt, this CRC has successfully extended its funding and is expected to receive a total sum of EUR 10 million. More than 100 researchers from the Institute of Nuclear Physics at TU Darmstadt, the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz are involved. They are systematically characterizing atomic nuclei across the entire nuclide spectrum based on the effective field theory underlying the strong interaction and by means of key experiments at international research facilities in Japan, the USA, and Darmstadt in Germany.

Professor Sonia Bacca and Professor Pierre Capel of the JGU Institute of Nuclear Physics are contributing their expertise in the field of theoretical nuclear physics: Bacca works on predicting the polarizability of atomic nuclei near closed shells to test theoretical models based on chiral effective field theory. Extending our understanding on the polarizability will enable us to better determine the equation of state of neutron-rich nuclear matter and thus improve the description of neutron stars properties. Capel is conducting research in the exciting field of atomic nuclei, which exhibit a halo structure. In these nuclei one or two loosely bound nucleons decouple from the core of the nucleus and form a sort of halo around the other nucleons. Because of their short lifetime, these nuclei are mostly studied through reactions. Professor Pierre Capel's goal is to develop theoretical models of reactions involving halo nuclei to infer more reliable nuclear-structure information from experimental data.

In addition to gaining insights into the strong interaction, CRC 1245 is also involved in extensive research into the electroweak interaction and into nuclear astrophysics.