RWTH Aachen University and Forschungszentrum Jülich bring their complementary expertise together in the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA). For more than ten years, the two partners have thus been creating a research environment that is attractive to the best minds.
For the entire duration of the Excellence Initiative (2007–2017), the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance was funded from federal and state excellence funds to the amount of € 26.2 million. In this way, cooperation in important research areas could be supported and expanded. In addition to establishing new sections, new structures such as JARA Institutes and JARA Centres were established in order to intensify and sustain JARA cooperation. These are funded by RWTH Aachen University, Forschungszentrum Jülich, the participating institutes and by third parties.
As of: 31.12.2018
|Joint professorial appointments 1)||63|
|of all institutions involved in JARA 2)||2.667|
The cooperation started with three sections in 2007. There are by now six sections that combine “cores of excellence” from universities and large research institutions. In addition, there are four JARA Institutes – two each in JARA-BRAIN and JARA-FIT – and the JARA Center for Simulation and Data Science (JARA-CSD), which was newly founded in 2018.
On the occasion of the opening of the JARA Center for Simulation and Data Science (JARA-CSD), RWTH Aachen University and Forschungszentrum Jülich organised the JARA Day on 19 November 2018. Computer and data infrastructures as well as research in the fields of simulation, data analysis and high-performance computing technologies are run and expanded by the JARA-CSD at both locations in a complementary and synergetic manner. The Center combines and complements successfully established structures such as the Center for Computational Engineering Science, the RWTH Computational Science & Engineering profile area or the JARA-HPC section.
The integrated School for Simulation and Data Science (SSD) attaches great importance to the qualification of young talent. Both the scientific activities of the German Research School for Simulation Sciences (GRS) and the Aachen Graduate School Institute for Advanced Study in Computational Engineering Science (AICES) are integrated into the SSD.
Solid-state batteries do not contain any liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. They are therefore considered to be much safer, more reliable and more durable than conventional lithium-ion batteries. Currently, however, they need a relatively long time to charge, because the contact and thus the flow of electricity between the components is not as good as with batteries with liquid electrolytes. Scientists led by JARA-ENERGY member Prof. Rüdiger A. Eichel presented a new concept for solid-state batteries that accelerates the charging process. The trick is that all components are made of similar materials. Anode, cathode and electrolyte were manufactured from phosphate compounds to allow charge rates ten times higher than those previously assumed in the literature. Fields of application could be electric vehicles of the generation after next, but also medical technology or the “smart home” sector.
It is extremely difficult to investigate what happens when cells collide and interact with each other via groups of proteins in the cell membrane. Scientists led by Prof. Andreas Offenhäusser, member of JARA-Soft, succeeded in developing a system in which such processes can be observed in a controlled manner. They used electron beam lithography to apply fine gold grids to glass plates. The individual squares contained artificial membranes which the researchers equipped with neuronal adhesion molecules, that is, proteins to which nerve cells bind. The researchers had these constructs correlate with embryonic nerve cells from rat brains. Using a method called live cell imaging, they were now able to observe how the brain cells attached themselves, changed shape and formed axons. The results, which were published in the journal “Nanoscale”, provide basic insights into biological processes, but can also be useful for the development of sensors, for example.
Prof. Markus Ternes researches the structure and dynamics of atomic and molecular model systems. In this nanoworld, the laws of our macroscopic everyday life no longer apply unrestrictedly. As part of a Heisenberg Professorship funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the physicist took over the field of teaching and research of spin engineering at RWTH Aachen University in May 2018. In addition, Ternes is conducting research at the Forschungszentrum Jülich’s Peter Grünberg Institute. He uses a combination of so-called scanning tunneling microscopes and atomic force microscopes for his studies. An ultra-fine tip acts as a sensor to measure the smallest electrical currents and mechanical forces between individual atoms and molecules and to influence the systems. Platforms that are suitable for complex quantum simulations are to be thus detected. The aim is not only to understand the quantum mechanical interactions, but also to deploy them, for example to increase the performance of future quantum computers or to develop new materials.
Jülich researchers at the JARA Institute “Brain Structure-Function Relationships” provide a unique view of connections in the brain. Synapses are key elements of signal transmission in the brain. In collaboration with scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, JARA-BRAIN researchers led by Prof. Joachim Lübke have for the first time quantitatively investigated and described in detail a human temporal lobe synapse using high-resolution digital electron microscopic images. Investigations of 3-D models of human synapses showed that there are not only similarities but also marked differences to synaptic structures in the animal model. This applies above all to the size and structural structure of so-called active zones where messenger substances (neurotransmitters) are released. The number and availability of synaptic vesicles containing the messenger substances also differ in humans and animals. The scientists conclude that data from animal experiments cannot necessarily be transferred one-to-one to humans.
Neutrinos are probably the most common elementary particles in space. However, they are very difficult to measure as they simply penetrate matter. Since 2007, 1,400 metres underground in the Gran Sasso massif near Rome, Borexino has been an observatory for such “ghostly” particles. In 2018, scientists from the Borexino Collaboration published the most comprehensive analysis to date of neutrinos from nuclear fusion in the sun in the journal “Nature”. These data can be used to make important statements about the processes inside the sun. The properties of the neutrinos themselves could also be studied. Prof. Livia Ludhova, one of the two scientific coordinators of Borexino, member of JARA-FAME and head of the Neutrino Group of Jülich’s Nuclear Physics Institute: “Our data thus provide the best direct insight yet into what is happening in the interior of the sun. Young researchers from the Nuclear Physics Institute played a major role in this: they calculated thousands of data adaptations using the Jülich supercomputers.”
PHOTOS: Borexino Collaboration, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau