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Biophysical Chemistry uses experimental and theoretical approaches and develops new methods to address the mechanisms of biological processes at a molecular level. By using a variety of physico-chemical techniques, we are studying the structure, dynamics and phase behavior of biological model systems, such as model biomembranes and proteins. Understanding of these simpler systems helps in investigations of the more complex biological systems. Our emphasis in the field of membrane biophysics is the study of the energetics and phase behavior of lipid mesophases and the interaction of model membranes with steroids, anesthetics, drugs, polypeptides and signalling proteins. Our research activity is also motivated by a number of current and potential biomedical applications (e.g., drug delivery systems). In addition, we address pressure effects in molecular biophysics, such as pressure-induced phase transformations of lipid membranes and unfolding and denaturation of proteins. Deeper knowledge of protein-folding physics and chemistry may allow the design of drugs that will bind to specific protein conformations, thereby altering its folding pathway and preventing misfolding which can lead to diseases. Besides the general physico-chemical interest in using high pressure as a tool for understanding the phase behavior, structure and energetics of amphiphilic molecules, high pressure is also of considerable physiological (e.g., for understanding the physiology of deep sea organisms) and biotechnological (e.g., for high pressure food processing) interest.




Current Research Programs


Structure, dynamics, energetics, phase behavior and function of biomolecular systems:

  • model biomembrane systems, lipid mixtures
  • non-lamellar (cubic, hexagonal) lipid systems
  • energetics and phase behavior of lipid mesophases
  • interaction of model biomembranes with ions, small amphiphilic molecules, steroids, peptides, proteins
  • rational membrane design, drug targeting
  • membrane-associated signal transduction processes
  • kinetics of biomolecular phase transitions (p-jump relaxation techniques)
  • high pressure effects in molecular biophysics and soft condensed matter
  • folding/unfolding and denaturation of proteins under pressure
  • misfolding and aggregation (amyloidogenesis) of proteins, small-molecule inhibitors
  • confinement/crowding/cosolvent effects
  • gel formation and structure of biomaterials
  • structure and dynamics of water in biomolecular systems (solvation science)






Astrobiophysical chemistry:

  • biomaterials under extreme environmental conditions
  • prebiotic chemistry
  • the deep biosphere



Structural and dynamic properties of complex liquids:

  • liquid water and aqueous solutions
  • liquid matter under extreme conditions of temperature and pressure
  • polymer systems at high pressure conditions
  • liquid state physics


Collaborative Research Centers

DFG - FOR 1979
(Exploring the Dynamical Landscape of Biomolecular Systems by Pressure Perturbation)

FOR 1979 

FOR 1979

DFG - FOR 1583
(Wasserstoffbrückenbildende Flüssigkeiten bei Anwesenheit innerer Grenzflächen unterschiedlicher Hydroaffinität)


Solvation Science @ RUB

International Max Planck Research School in Chemical Biology (IMPRS-CB)

European High Pressure Research Group

DFG - SFB 642

Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO)


DFG - GK 298
(Structure-Dynamics Relations in Microstructured Systems)

DFG - FOR 436
(Polymorphism, Dynamics and Function of Water at Molecular Surfaces)