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DFG approves third funding phase for special research field 716

25.11.2014 - (idw) Universität Stuttgart

Simulated worlds of particles The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the special research field 716 "Dynamic Simulation of Systems with Large Particle Numbers" at the University of Stuttgart for a further four years with a sum of around six million Euros. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee in its meeting on 20th November 2014 in Bonn.
The objective of the special research field is to realistically simulate complex processes from technology and nature in foreseeable processing times. For this purpose the researchers from Stuttgart dissolve materials and biological systems into their single particles. Partly down to the atom and with this to the level of the smallest particle; they then reconstruct the behaviour of each particle taking into account all acting forces on the computer. This procedure is associated with enormous computing resources even if most of the observed systems are in the nanometer range.

Simulations are an indispensible tool today in research and development in numerous specialist fields, Prof. Christian Holm, spokesperson of the research association emphasised. We are developing new, efficient methods in order to calculate larger, longer and more complex processes with particle simulations on constantly developing computer technologies, with an aim to develop new application fields.
Scientists from a total of five faculties and 14 institutes from the fields of physics, chemistry, computer technology, biotechnology and process technology and aerospace as well as the High Performance Computing Centre and the Visualisation Institute of the University of Stuttgart have been jointly dedicating themselves to this task since 2007. The special challenges are precisely describing the acting forces, calculating the large data quantities on programmable graphic cards or high performance computers and analysing the simulation results through a visually interactive preparation.

For example, a research team is dealing with a new genotype analysis technique so-called DNA-sequencing. This process could enable the structure of the genotype to be ascertained quickly and at a favourable price in order to rapidly recognise and treat hereditary diseases. The researchers are testing virtually on computers the effects of various DNA sequences, pore sizes and materials and measuring the emitted signals in order to review the feasibility of the process. Other project groups are investigating the causes of breaks and cracks, the binding behaviour of proteins or the effects in the laser radiation of solid bodies.

With the current grant the third funding period of the special research field 716 starts in January 2015. Through the long-term funding, the bundling of the knowledge from a wide variety of specialists as well as the technical infrastructure Stuttgart offers to this research program as a location, the chances of success are particularly good for the project. The results up to now have been very convincing, said Prof. Christian Holm. We were able to develop improved simulation algorithms and develop new applications. Over 250 contributions were published in the current term in scientific journals and at conferences. In addition, scientists have received renowned distinctions, including the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Prize from DFG for Prof. Jörg Wrachtrup, the DECHEMA-Prize for Prof. Joachim Groß or the Hellmann-Prize for Prof. Johannes Kästner.

In the next four years the new simulation methods are to be developed further and the possibilities of virtual investigations associated with this expanded. More particles, longer periods of time and above all more complex systems are the focus of the third funding phase. Among other things, new projects will deal with error-prone DNA structures, investigate the optical evidence of the smallest materials in the body and research the self-organisation of molecules to generate functional nano-materials. Furthermore, the competences in the field of computer science will be strengthened in order to further advance the efficiency of algorithms and the optimum exploitation of parallel computer technologies and to underpin the basis for the progress in this field.

Tina Barthelmes, University of Stuttgart, Visualisation Institute of the University of Stuttgart,
Tel. 0711/685-88604, Email:
Prof. Christian Holm, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Computer Physics,
Tel. 0711/685-63593, Email:
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