Conversion of substances

DFG approves second funding period of the CRC 1316

Plasmas for the Systems for material conversion are an important component in the utilization and storage of decentrally generated renewable energies. The Collaborative Research Center 1316 (CRC 1316) "Transient Atmospheric Pressure Plasmas - from Plasma to Liquids to Solids" is dedicated to combining atmospheric pressure plasmas with catalysis to develop the most flexible solutions possible for this material conversion. "They should be scalable, controllable and robust against external influences, such as impurities in the starting materials," explains Prof. Dr. Achim von Keudell, spokesman of the CRC. 

The first funding period of the CRC 1316 was dedicated to the elucidation of transient phenomena in atmospheric pressure plasmas as well as interfacial processes at the surface of catalysts. Here, the focus was on three systems: the plasma-catalytic conversion of gases, the combination of plasmas with electrolysis at the interface between liquid and solid, and plasma-assisted biocatalysis, in which enzymes very selectively produce new molecules. The researchers were able to make great progress in these areas: For example, they achieved precise control of the formation of reactive particles in these plasmas. They were also able to gain a deeper understanding of the atomic and molecular surface processes in these systems. 

In the second funding period, these findings will be brought together to make the best possible use of the interplay between a plasma with its reactive particles and a catalytically active surface. There are many further questions in this regard, since in traditional catalysis, for example, stable molecules are essentially reaction partners, whereas in plasma catalysis, reactive particles or highly excited species can accelerate or suppress a specific reaction path. On this basis, the first prototype plants for plasma catalysis, plasma electrolysis and plasma biocatalysis are to be developed. 

In addition to the RUB as the host university, researchers from the University of Ulm, the Jülich Research Center and the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin are involved in the CRC.


Japan Workshop

A workshop between CRC1316 and Japanese universities/research institutions will take part between November 29th and December 3rd, 2021. The organizers are Prof. Czarnetzki, Satoshi Hamaguchi, Jan Kuhfeld and two PhD students from Nagoya University. Further information can be found here.

Please note that the deadline is already October 27. Active participation is by invitation only, but passive participation is completely open. Participants must register in any case.

Insights into the SFB 1316

Virtual public 360° tour of the SFB 1316

Insights into the projects and laboratories, the opportunity to take a look at the various experiments and diagnostics and ask live questions about them - this opportunity is available to everyone on 27.10.2021 at 4 pm during a virtual 360° tour. The tour is aimed at the general public and thus offers not only researchers and students but also interested persons outside of university the opportunity to experience research interactively and get to know the projects better.


Plasmas for all

A great many everyday technologies would not exist without plasmas. The teams of the Collaborative Research Centres want to share knowledge about their relevance with the public.

An experiment from the plasma van: A plasma is ignited between two electrodes. Plasma layers are created at regular intervals by accelerated electrons. © Damian Gorczany

Driving the plasma van to school

For many years, the plasma researchers at RUB have been committed to introducing plasmas to school students in different year groups. “Physics teachers sometimes conduct experiments that involve plasmas, but the word plasma doesn’t even appear in the curriculum,” explains Science Manager Dr. Marina Prenzel. In order to familiarise secondary school students with the concept of a plasma, the SFB team, in cooperation with Professor Heiko Krabbe and other physics didactics experts, has constructed various plasma experiments that can be stowed away in boxes and handily transported in a minibus. The researchers use them for interesting 90-minute workshops in sixth-form classes, where students can do their own experiments and learn about different applications of plasmas. “This is how we want to create awareness that plasmas are extremely important for many of our current technologies,” says Prenzel.

Students evaluate research projects

Students should not only be given the chance to learn what a plasma actually is and where it is used. Rather, the SFB team is also currently setting up a project in collaboration with the physics didactics department that aims at promoting the evaluation skills of adolescents and young adults. Here, students are to gain insights into various plasma research projects and evaluate which of these projects they would support. Another goal is to convey the significance of plasmas for the challenges of global warming.

More than 20 years of plasma summer school

For more than 20 years, plasma researchers at RUB have been organising an annual international summer school for Master’s students and doctoral candidates. It originally emerged from a European Erasmus project, acquired under the auspices of the Eind­hoven University of Technology. When the funding ran out in 2000, the RUB team dedicated itself to continuing it. “The school is practically always overbooked,” says co-organiser Dr. Marc Böke. The 80 to 90 participants each year and the lecturers come from all over the world. The aim of the seven-day school is to give them insights into all the major technically relevant plasmas and, at the same time, to enable them to network with each other and with established researchers in the field. “Some of the former participants are now themselves running plasma labs,” says Böke. The RUB team hopes to resume the successful format soon, despite the coronavirus situation.

adapted from Julia Weiler, RUB

Plasmas as chemistry labs

The smaller a plasma, the larger the experimental setup needed to study it. It is worth the effort, because the reaction conditions found in cubic-millimetre-sized plasmas are very much unique. Even though plasmas at atmospheric pressure are often only a few cubic millimetres in size, they pack quite a punch. This is because special non-equilibrium states can be set up in them, which facilitate physical and chemical processes that are not possible in any other environment. The plasma thus becomes a special kind of laboratory, where atoms and molecules can be excited without their surroundings heating up. “Such excitations could theoretically also be generated in a gas, but to do so we would have to heat it to several thousand degrees Kelvin. As a result, the molecules would decompose,” explains Professor Uwe Czarnetzki, Head of the Chair of Plasma and Atomic Physics at the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. For many years, he and his team have been developing methods to explore the processes inside plasmas and to characterise the plasmas. Plasmas boast a unique feature: electric fields can be used to supply energy to the electrons in the plasma; the electrons in turn interact with molecules such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide while transferring the energy to them. The molecules are excited, and this happens without the environment heating up in the process, as would be the case in a gas. The molecules that are excited to vibrate have a much higher reactivity than those in the ground state. Plasma can therefore change chemistry or even enable certain chemical processes in the first place. Consequently, plasma provides basic researchers with a unique opportunity to study the excitation of molecules and the associated chemistry beyond thermodynamic equilibrium. Uwe Czarnetzki is therefore primarily interested in the vibrational states of molecules in plasmas.

MGK Colloquium

Virtual MGK Colloquium

The scientific exchange among the CRC members and the group of Early Career Researcher occurred continuously during the three yearly project meetings and in the workshops organized by the CRC 1316 since it starting in 01/2018. However, it is very important that the ECR have also a platform to interact in a conference setting without the impact of their adviser to stimulate the discussions among the ECR. Instead, the CRC 1316 decided to organize an MGK Colloquium on its own by inviting the ECR from the CRC 1316 and from the SFB-TR 87. This meeting was organized by the ECRs J. Kuhfeld and P. Preissing in a virtual format on 21/04/2021. Prominent invited speakers at this event were Prof. A. Bogaerts (university Antwerp), Dr. S. Iseni (GREMI, Orléans) and Dr. T.L. Chng (LPP Paris). Beside presentations within a zoom meeting, virtual poster sessions were performed, enhancing the interaction between the ECR.

Honour of research of project A5

Project A5 on the Inside Front Cover of Plasma Processes and Polymers

The current issue (April 2021) of Plasma Processes and Polymers features work from project A5 of the CRC 1316 on the topic of "positive and negative streamer propagation in volume dielectric barrier discharges with planar and porous electrodes" on its inside front cover.

The scientists have found that the discharge characteristics of negative surface streamers differ significantly from those of positive surface streamers. While negative streamers develop along the dielectric surface, allowing them to propagate into much smaller dielectric pores, positive streamers floatingly develop above the dielectric.

New funding - Ruhr Conference

Plasma research contributes to new Research Center “Future Energy Materials and Systems”

The state NRW will fund four research centers and one research college during the next years in the framework of the funding instrument "Ruhr Konferenz". One research center “Future energy materials and systems” will support the plasma science at RUB in the area of synthetic plasma chemistry. Plasma chemistry is a key subject in the CRC 1316 and will be strengthend by this measure in the upcoming years. (Image (c) hagenvontroja)


Public Relations

Plasma Trial Day - What is plasma and where does it find application in technology & research?

Interested high school students are invited to participate in the Plasma Trial Day on Jan. 28, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. online. The chairs of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum will introduce themselves.

Technical plasmas find their application in many areas of everyday life and enable many achievements of our engineered world, such as in microelectronics, optics or mechanical engineering. But also in areas like air purification, sterilization and medicine plasmas can be used effectively in innovative concepts.

The fundamentals of technical applications are our field of research. We work interdisciplinary with partners from research and industry to develop innovative concepts and systems. And we would like to explain to you the largely unknown concept of physical plasma and introduce you to how we use and research the "fourth state of matter". Furthermore, we would like to show you how you might become part of a research team in the future!

Please register by email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Project meeting 16./17.11.2020

Fall meeting of the consortium

The annual fall meeting of the CRC took place online to discuss the recent progress within the projects and their collaborations. Due to the online format it was easy to integrate the Mercator fellows into these discussions. The meeting was complemented by a small workshop on communication aspects related to gender issues.

New appointment

Thomas Mussenbrock appointed at RUB

Since November 1, 2020, Prof. Dr. Thomas Mussenbrock has held the professorship for plasma technology at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology.

He conducts research on low temperature plasmas as well as on nanoelectronic and nanoionic components. His team develops analytical and numerical methods for modeling and simulation and applies them in interaction with experiments. "At the Ruhr-University Bochum, I find the ideal conditions for this," explains Thomas Mussenbrock. "Here, these experiments run right next door. I can follow them live and draw conclusions for our simulations, which in turn have a positive effect on the next experiments. In concrete terms, it is often a question of getting energy into a plasma efficiently and in a targeted manner. "Our goal is to excite only very specific particles." For Thomas Mussenbrock, much of his work revolves around the transport of energy and matter. "We want to understand the macroscopic behavior of the systems on the basis of the microscopic dynamics of the atoms, molecules, electrons and photons involved," the researcher explains.

In detail, plasmas play a decisive role in the manufacture of microelectronic components and circuits, for example. "More than 70 percent of all manufacturing steps are plasma-assisted," says Thomas Mussenbrock. "It is not for nothing that they say: No plasma, no iPad.

The chair of plasma technology is involved in two collaborative research centers among others. This research centers are the collaborative research center transregional SFB-TR 87 "Pulsed High-Power Plasmas for the Synthesis of Nanostructured Functional Layers," and the CRC 1316 "Transient Atmospheric Pressure Plasmas - from Plasma to Liquids to Solids,". Morevoer, Thomas Mussenbrock is also involved in the research group of the German Research Foundation FOR 2093 "Memristive Components for Neural Systems".