Quasicrystals in Scotland

Michael Engel presented the opening lecture at the ICMS conference “Quasicrystals: pattern formation and aperiodic order” in Edinburgh. This conference brought together four different research communities to advance the understanding of quasicrystals (QCs) and aperiodic order: (i) QCs in materials science, (ii) QCs in soft matter, (iii) QCs in partial differential equations (PDEs) and (iv) QCs in aperiodic tilings.

Apply now: Ferienakademie 2018

Nils Thuerey, Miriam Mehl and Michael Engel are offering again this fall a student course at Ferienakademie in the Italian Alps. The topic is Accelerating Physics Simulations with Deep Learning. The course is open to students at FAU Erlangen, TU Munich and U Stuttgart and will be a combination of presentations given by the participants and project-based team work. Read more our plans here.

Prerequisites for this course are basic programming skills, a sympathy for numerics and stochastics and the ability to work in a team on a project involving not only theory but also real hands-on coding (C/C++, Python, and similar). Hurry up! Applications are open a few more days until May 2, 2018.

Importantly, there is not only time for science but also time for wonderful hiking around Sarntal, Tyrol. Below is a picture from last year’s course:

Welcome Praveen

Praveen Bommineni joined the group as a postdoctoral researcher. He will be working on simulations to resolve structure formation processes in mesoscale systems. Welcome!


Marco Klement represented the group at the annual meeting of the German Physical Society (DPG) held this year in Berlin. He presented about “Efficient Simulation of Anisotropic Particles”. The 2018 meeting was the largest physics meeting ever to be organized in Europe, with 6420 attending.

Dancing robots

A publication with experiments by Christian Scholz, then a postdoc at MSS and now at Universität Düsseldorf, appeared in Nature Communications:

“Biological organisms and artificial active particles self-organize into swarms and patterns. Open questions concern the design of emergent phenomena by choosing appropriate forms of activity and particle interactions. A particularly simple and versatile system are 3D-printed robots on a vibrating table that can perform self-propelled and self-spinning motion. Here we study a mixture of minimalistic clockwise and counter-clockwise rotating robots, called rotors. Our experiments show that rotors move collectively and exhibit super-diffusive interfacial motion and phase separate via spinodal decomposition. On long time scales, confinement favors symmetric demixing patterns. By mapping rotor motion on a Langevin equation with a constant driving torque and by comparison with computer simulations, we demonstrate that our macroscopic system is a form of active soft matter.”

Read about it here:

Rotating Robots Move Collectively and Self-Organize
C. Scholz, M. Engel, T. Pöschel
Nature Communications 9, 931 (2018)

Press coverage pro-physik.de (in German):
Roboter mit Fraktionszwang

Science on Chiemsee

Michael Engel provided an overview talk about the theory and simulation of quasicrystals at the workshop of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 762: Functionality of Oxide Interfaces at Benedictine Abbey of Frauenwörth. The Benedictine abbey of Frauenwörth was founded by the Duke of Bavaria Tassilo III around 772 AD.

The island Frauenchiemsee with the abbey Frauenwörth from the shore of Chiemsee. It was quite cold (-10C) and crystallization at the liquid-air interface was observed (coincidentally a topic of the scientific talk).

Fall conference participation

Alberto Leonardi, Chrameh Mbah and Michael Engel present their recent research results at two conferences. The International Congress Engineering of Advanced Materials (ICEAM) held 10-12 Oct 2017 was the concluding event of the EAM Excellence Cluster and gathers national and international researchers in the field. The Particle-Based Materials Symposium (PBM) on 9-10 Nov 2017 at the Leibnitz Institute for New Materials in Saarbrücken brings together expertise from all over Germany.

Group excursion

Some pictures from this year’s group hike and visit to the beer cellar near Weilersbach on the border of the Franconian Switzerland near Erlangen.

On top of the Retterner Kanzel.

Relaxing after the hike at the Reifenberger beer cellar.

USA travel 2017

This year Michael Engel traveled again to the USA with stops at the University of Michigan and Indiana University. Also, part of the stay was the observation of the total solar eclipse in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Sunrise from Rocky Top.

Partial eclipse through the clouds.

Near total eclipse.

New paper: “Band gap formation and Anderson localization”

A research collaboration with Uni Fribourg (Switzerland) lead to a joint publication in PNAS:

“It has been shown recently that disordered dielectrics can support a photonic band gap in the presence of structural correlations. This finding is surprising, because light transport in disordered media has long been exclusively associated with photon diffusion and Anderson localization. Currently, there exists no picture that may allow the classification of optical transport depending on the structural properties. Here, we make an important step toward solving this fundamental problem. Based on numerical simulations of transport statistics, we identify all relevant regimes in a 2D system composed of silicon rods: transparency, photon diffusion, classical Anderson localization, band gap, and a pseudogap tunneling regime. We summarize our findings in a transport phase diagram that organizes optical transport properties in disordered media.”

Band gap formation and Anderson localization in disordered photonic materials with structural correlations
L.S. Froufe-Perez, M. Engel, J.J. Saenz, F. Scheffold
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, 9570-9574 (2017)