Research Departments

Research Departments Cutting-edge research at RUB is organised using flexible, interdisciplinary Research Departments (RD). Larger clusters are formed from the Research Departments, which are closely linked to each other and internationally, in order to investigate overarching research questions.


Solvation Science

Almost all chemical reactions – from biology to industrial processes – take place in a solution or in contact with solvents. The detailed understanding of solvation processes thus forms the basis for upcoming key technologies such as “green chemistry” and electrochemistry. It is essential when it comes to tapping into chemical processes, optimising industrial processes, improving environmental protection, preventing corrosion, and increasing energy efficiency, as well as for the understanding of biological processes, for which water is the ubiquitous solvent. In contrast to common practice, the researchers at the Research Department do not approach these questions in an empirical and descriptive manner. Instead, they want to research the principles in detail in order to gain universal knowledge and be able to predict the behaviour of molecules and reactions in solution. To do this, they use experimental and spectroscopic methods as well as the latest computer simulations.

Materials Research Department MRD

A long service life under extreme conditions – this is a key requirement for high-performance materials. High temperatures and pressures or aggressive environments pose a challenge, whether this be in turbines for aviation, in battery cells, in car engines, or fuel cells and catalysis. High-performance materials are also multifunctional. Their surfaces and interfaces improve their mechanical properties and tap into new chemical or electronic functionalities. In the Materials Research Department, the aim is to fundamentally understand interfaces at an atomic level and influence them in a targeted manner. The researchers want to design new materials with previously unused property profiles. This requires an intensive interdisciplinary collaboration of working groups in material conception, modelling, synthesis, processing and characterisation.

Research Department for IT Security

Information technology is an integral part of our everyday lives. However, the many new possibilities also open up great risks that extend from Internet fraud and attacks on intelligent factories through to hacking in self-driving cars. Always keeping a step ahead of cybercriminals is one of the aims of the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (HGI). Due to its broad interdisciplinary scope, it is considered one of the leading research institutions in Europe in the field of IT security. Over 100 researchers from IT, mathematics, the humanities and social sciences, and law work together here. Among them are world-leading experts from the fields of security of software and networks, cryptography, security of embedded systems, usable security, and social and legal aspects of digital security. The HGI also has the first and most extensive courses of study in the field of IT security in Europe. In four bachelor and master programmes, over 800 students are trained for a job market that has a great need for skilled workers.

Plasmas with Complex Interactions

Plasmas – glowing, energetically stimulated gases – are everywhere and are real all-rounders in industry: with them, medical equipment can be sterilised, surfaces can be coated, light can be created and much more. They are applied in semiconductor technology, microsystem technology, the finishing of technical surfaces or to switch high currents. Plasma technology is thus one of the key technologies of the 21st century with great potential for innovation. The members of the Research Department “Plasmas with Complex Interactions” conduct research into previously virtually unknown areas, which are characterised by the complex interaction of plasmas with their environment. The work extends far beyond the traditional limits of plasma research in that it transfers plasma techniques and methods to solid-state physics, materials science, chemistry, biology and astronomy. A focus lies on the technically important non-equilibrium plasmas.

Research Department Center for Religious Studies CERES

The Research Department Ceres combines interdisciplinary research from 20 disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. A central focus lies on researching the internal dynamics of religion and its interactions with other areas of society. Looking at religion has resulted in an interest in processes of cultivating tradition even beyond the religious field. The Research Department thus now also combines research on the topic area “tradition”. Priority is given to questions such as how traditions arise, what their functions are, when and why they are revitalised and under what conditions they act as an obstacle or a catalyst for the development of civil society.

Protein Research Department PRD

Proteins are responsible for a wide range of functions in cells such as movement, transport, catalysis, and the identification and forwarding of signals. If a protein does not function correctly, serious illnesses can occur. In order to understand the function of proteins, the researchers at the Research Department are investigating their structure in detail and their interactions in networks within cells. Particular attention is paid to processes involving biological membranes such as the cell wall. A variety of studies is dedicated to the transmitting of external signals in a cell, for instance by what are known as G-protein-coupled receptors. As defects in such interactions are considered responsible for many serious illnesses, the researchers hope a more detailed understanding will also offer approaches for tailor-made medications in molecular therapy or the development of biomarkers, which allow certain illnesses to be identified at an early stage.

Research Department Neuroscience

How are visual impressions processed in the brain? Is it more difficult for us to learn under stress? What happens in the brain when we age? How do children learn? These and many other questions are looked at by the members of the Research Department “Neuroscience”, which combines interdisciplinary and wide-ranging neuroscientific research at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Around 500 neuroscientists from biology and biotechnology, chemistry and biochemistry, medicine, psychology and neuroinformatics work together on neuroscientific research questions on the campus and in the associated clinics. The Research Department offers an integrative research platform that comprises molecular, cellular, systemic, cognitive and clinical neuroscience through to neuroinformatics, and has thus established a multidisciplinary strategy to conduct research on brain functions. Research focus areas include systems, learning and memory, brain pathology and the applied neurosciences.

Subsurface Modeling and Engineering

Undreamt-of possibilities lie deep under our cellars: geothermal energy, congestion-free routes for the transport of goods, and storage capacities for climate gases and harmful substances are just a few examples. The Research Department “Subsurface Modelling and Engineering” aims to intelligently use this potential. The researchers thus want to use numeric models, lab experiments and deep drilling to develop concepts for the more environmentally-friendly use of geothermal energy. To minimise traffic chaos and environmental problems in conurbations, they are researching reliable forecasting models to make tunnel construction safer, more efficient and more economical. Simulation models should also help to store CO2 and other harmful substances underground in an environmentally friendly way over long periods and to render them harmless to the atmosphere. The Research Department is an interdisciplinary research platform for specialists from the fields of computer simulation, civil engineering, geosciences, mechanical engineering, IT, mathematics, economics and archaeology.

Closed Carbon Cycle Economy CCCE

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the climate gas that makes a crucial contribution to global warming. To prevent huge quantities of this from entering the atmosphere unhindered, the interdisciplinary team at the Research Department is looking for ways to achieve closed carbon cycles. Far-reaching changes are required that, for instance, relate to the way in which we generate electricity or heating energy, provide process heat for industry and energy for mobility. Besides these scientific/technical challenges, the researchers also dedicate themselves to the associated societal questions. In order to, for instance, further develop methods for energy production or to store CO2 over the long term, new technologies must also be politically enforceable and accepted by the public. Finally, business models must also be developed. Economic and legal framework conditions, moral codes, our recreational habits – all of this and much more has an influence on such a far-reaching development and is also influenced by imminent changes.

Interfacial Systems Chemistry

The vision of the members of the Research Department is to understand in detail the interaction between individual molecules or atoms and, based on this, to achieve a microscopic understanding of chemical complexity. The subjects of their work rang from the interfaces of condensed matter, such as the interactions between a metal and a substrate, through to complex molecular architectures, such as the interfaces of water molecules and biomolecules. To do this, the researchers use and improve a broad arsenal of the latest synthetic, spectroscopic, analytical, theoretical and engineering scientific methods. They directly transfer progress within fundamental research to applied research and industrial processes. A particular focus lies on the topic of materials.