DFG Research Training Group
RTG 2522
Jena - Leipzig
Strong Dynamics and Criticality
in Quantum and Gravitational Systems


The language of modern physics is formulated in terms of the concept of fields. Our current comprehension of Nature on its fundamental level is based on dynamical field theories such as Einstein's theory of general relativity for gravitational aspects and quantum field theories for the description of matter and their quantized interactions. Whereas both theory concepts have their origins in the reductionist search for the elements of space, time and matter, current theoretical research instead faces the challenge of complexity: a variety of physical properties emerge in a fascinating manner from the interplay of matter and fields.

The core research idea of this Research Training Group (RTG) is to investigate, understand and compute the emergence of complexity in gravitational and quantum field theories starting from their foundations. We focus on a set of examples of physical topicality or conceptual relevance, such as gravitational wave phenomena and black holes on the gravity side, and dynamics and criticality near phase transitions on the quantum side. Of particular interest is the interface of gravitational and quantum theories, where our understanding profits substantially from the cross-correlations among these fields both conceptually and from the method side.


  • Non-equilibrium dynamics of strongly coupled QFTs from gravity

    Martin Ammon

    We investigate quantum fields far from equilibrium for strongly coupled systems within the AdS/CFT correspondence by mapping strongly coupled quantum field theories to classical supergravity theories.

  • Gravitational waves as probes of strong and dynamical fields

    Sebastiano Bernuzzi

    Using gravitational waves as probes, we study the general relativistic two-body dynamics in the strong field regime and employ this knowledge to constrain fundamental physics of black holes and of extreme matter fields.

  • Critical Collapse in General Relativity

    Bernd Brügmann

    Black holes are a fundamental strong field phenomenon of general relativity. Several important features of black holes are known in analytic or semi-analytic form, but many key features, in particular those related to dynamical spacetimes, are only accessible through numerical simulation. The topic of this project is critical phenomena in gravitational collapse in general relativity.

  • Quantum energy inequalities and thermal properties of quantum field theory

    Daniela Cadamuro

    Quantum energy inequalities play an important role in QFT as they are related to the stability of spacetime. In particular, they exclude existence of ``exotic'' spacetime geometries such as wormholes, warp drives and time-machines. We investigate whether Quantum energy inequalities are related to the existence of local thermal equilibrium states and local stability of QFTs.

  • Critical phenomena in fermionic systems and gravity

    Holger Gies

    All visible matter in the universe essentially consists of fermions. The masses of these matter building blocks are largely shaped by critical phenomena such as chiral symmetry breaking. We investigate the interplay between fermionic matter, curved (quantized) spacetime, and corresponding mass generating mechanisms possibly active in the early universe.

  • Quantum field theory and gravity on manifolds with boundary

    Stefan Hollands

    QFTs on space(times) with boundaries are relevant in many contexts, e.g., in the Casimir effect, near defects, junctions, interfaces, topological insulators or even spacetime singularities. It is a goal of this project to set up a general theory of renormalization for models of quantum fields in space(times) with boundaries.

  • Nonlinear interactions in Einstein-Maxwell theory

    Reinhard Meinel

    Using the "inverse scattering method" - that has been developed in the context of soliton theory and can be applied to the Einstein-Maxwell equations in the presence of two commuting Killing fields - we will study (i) collisions of gravitational and electromagnetic waves and (ii) quasi-stationary routes from "normal" matter configurations to black holes in Einstein-Maxwell theory.

  • Non-equilibrium bosonization, quantum quenches, and particle entanglement

    Bernd Rosenow

    A focus of interest are one-dimensional electron systems out of equilibrium and their relaxation towards (non-)equilibrium steady states. We study interaction quenches in systems of fermions, and focus on entanglement entropy characterizing the approach to late-time behavior.

  • Quantum Fields in Non-equilibrium and Black Hole Evaporation

    Rainer Verch

    The Hawking effect, predicting radiation by black holes due to quantum effects and correspondingly black-hole evaporation, features the puzzling scenario called ``information loss paradox''. We study the existence of solutions for evaporating back holes of semiclassical gravity to advance the analysis of thermodynamical properties of quantum fields on black-hole spacetimes and a corresponding entropy concept.

  • Interacting Fermions in external fields, finite temperature and nonzero density

    Andreas Wipf

    We plan a comprehensive study of the critical behavior, symmetry breaking patters and mass generation in 2 and 3-dimensional fermionic systems (Weyl/Dirac materials) within lattice field theory. Relevant phase transitions are investigated as a function of termperature, density and spacetime curvature.

  • PhD

PhD Training

The qualification program and supervision strategy of the RTG is fully research oriented and is based on the principles of academic freedom, competition and internationalization. Conducting successful research at the forefront of modern theoretical physics requires a highly specialized training. A solid long-term career perspective, on the other hand, necessitates also a broad basis of knowledge and competences. Both objectives will be supported by a Curriculum with local and joint elements and an internationalized research-oriented training.

Important added values for training and supervision arising from the joint RTG Jena/Leipzig are: the advanced part of the Curriculum is significantly broadened; research topics complement each other, yielding a larger overall coherence; the PhD fellows form a larger transregional peer group stimulating motivation, research enthusiasm, and orientation towards competitiveness.

Advanced Courses


  • QFT in curved spacetime
  • Gravitational waves
  • Topological phenomena
  • Gauge-gravity correspondence
  • Relativistic astrophysics
  • Renormalization theory
  • Mathematical cosmology
  • Lattice field theory
  • Numerical Relativity

Mitteldeutsche Physik-Combo

Biannual transregional training initiative at Jena-Leipzig, providing in-depth research training in topical research areas. The Physik-Combo will be open to students from other locations as well.

Stay tuned for the Combo Kickoff meeting in spring 2020!

Int. Workshops



DFG Research Training Group 2522
Strong Dynamics and Criticality in Quantum and Gravitational Fields

Coordination Office:
Lisann Schmidt
Theoretisch-Physikalisches Institut
Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena
Max-Wien-Platz 1
07743 Jena, GERMANY
E-mail: RTG2522@uni-jena.de

Visitor address Jena:
Fröbelstieg 1
07743 Jena, GERMANY
Visitor address Leipzig:
Institut für Theoretische Physik
Universität Leipzig
Brüderstraße 14-16
04105 Leipzig, GERMANY


Holger Gies, Spokesperson, TPI Jena
Bernd Brügmann, Vice-Speaker, TPI Jena
Stefan Hollands, Vice-Speaker, ITP Leipzig