Date: May 22, 2015, No. 37

From Rydberg atoms to low-vibration lightweight construction parts

Two new DFG priority programs at the University of Stuttgart

Not one but two of 18 new priority programs (SPP) by the German Research Foundation (DFG) are currently being established at the University of Stuttgart: the priority program “Giant Interactions in Rydberg Systems“ aims at researching the physics of so-called Rydberg atoms with their diverse range of possible scientific and technological applications. In the framework of the priority program “Calm, Smooth and Smart“ the scientists investigate how the oscillation susceptibility of lightweight constructions and other mechanical components can be minimised. Underlying scientific questions are to be investigated in the coming years in particularly topical or currently emerging scientific questions with the DFG priority programs. 

Priority program "Giant Interactions in Rydberg Systems (GiRyd)"

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Tilman Pfau, University of Stuttgart, 5. Physics Institute, Tel. 0711/685-680 25, Email: t.pfau (at),

The SPP GiRyd constitutes a nationwide interdisciplinary platform for research work that deals with the exceptionally strong interactions of Rydberg atoms. Rydberg atoms are atoms that have energetically very highly excited electrons and thus have a very great dipole moment that is accompanied by exceptionally strong couplings. This interaction between atoms in a Rydberg state is up to 1012 times greater than between atoms in a basic state. This enables unique experiments in which for example an atom is locally modified in an expanded Rydberg molecule and through which the state of another can be changed. Rydberg atoms can be used in a wide variety of ways: they react, for instance, very sensitively to electric fields and single photons and are suitable as sensors. Integrated in solid-state systems, they open up new perspectives for quantum information processing.    

In the framework of GiRyd experimental and theoretical groups from nuclear physics, quantum optics and solid-state physics work together. The research work is dedicated to fundamental questions of the interaction between single atoms via aggregates up to multi-particle physics but also their applications in sensor technology as well as in the quantum technologies.

Priority program “Calm, Smooth and Smart“

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Peter Eberhard, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Technical and Numerical Mechanics, Tel: 0711/685-66389, Email: peter.eberhard (at)

In the framework of the priority program “Calm, Smooth and Smart“ the Stuttgart scientists likewise acting as part of a nationwide research association also wish to identify innovative possibilities to directly influence the oscillation behaviour of mechanical components and to subsequently make these useful. The project is just as challenging as it is urgent since the lightweight structures very popular today for economical and ecological reasons are particularly susceptible to vibrations. Therefore there is a great need for innovative approaches to minimise this problem. In this respect, for example, the burden on man and environment could be considerably reduced through a reduction in the squealing noises of disc brakes in vehicles. But also these issues can be found in biomechanics, for instance when designing prosthetics in the middle ear, in mechanical engineering, for example in the vibration reduction in tool-making machines, in structural dynamics and in many other fields of technology.

Against this background the association on the one hand wishes to research the underlying physical processes in depth and on the other hand put a diverse range of practical everyday applications at the focus of the investigations. The project also offers excellent opportunities for promoting junior scientists and equality as well as cooperating with international partners through the interdisciplinary bundling as well as the targeted use of research capacities existing in Germany as well as competences in the most varied specialist disciplines in mechanics, mathematics and system dynamics.

Media contact:

Andrea Mayer-Grenu, University of Stuttgart, Department of University Communication, Tel. 0711/685-82176, Email: andrea.mayer-grenu (at)