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TUM’s Research Centers

Technische Universität München (TUM) has set up interdisciplinary research centers to bundle expertise across faculties and synergize these insights with the know-how of external cooperation partners. Working at the touch points between the natural sciences, engineering and medicine, researchers are discovering new ways of tackling the major challenges facing society as we move forward. The opportunity to work at these interfaces is attracting scientists from around the globe to TUM.

How can technology meet society’s needs? MCTS is exploring this question. Graphic: Christine Sturz
How can technology meet society’s needs? MCTS is exploring this question.Image: Christine Sturz

TUM academics are exploring new fields of research in Integrative Research Centers (IRCs). Each center concentrates on a specific research topic and flanks this with excellence in teaching. Academics from various TUM faculties join forces with top international researchers in these IRCs.

Nanoparticles and the vastness of space: The Universe Cluster of Excellence. Photos: CERN, CERN, Giovanni Benintende.
Nanoparticles and the vastness of space: The Universe Cluster of Excellence.Image: CERN, CERN, Giovanni Benintende

Clusters of excellence are interdisciplinary research projects funded under the Excellence Initiative. TUM is the leading partner in the following long-term, high-profile research initiatives:

Corporate Research Centers

TUM has set up a number of Corporate Research Centers to carry out cutting-edge work in highly specialist areas, from neutron physics to the life sciences. These centers answer directly to the Board of Management. This means that they are free to carry out their basic research independently of the faculties. They also enter into industry cooperations for application-driven research.

Researchers from the four corners of the globe queue up to work at the most versatile high flux neutron source in the world. Photo: Schuermann.
Researchers from the four corners of the globe queue up to work at the most versatile high flux neutron source in the world.Image: Schuermann

The origin and structure of matter: Neutron researchers from around the world are able to visualize the atomic structure of their probes at the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II) research neutron source in Garching. This is where the natural sciences meet engineering. Neutron research has many practical applications in the chip industry or cancer treatment, for instance. Research Neutron Source FRM II

The ZIEL center in Weihenstephan continues to advance TUM’s research on food technology. Photo: TUM.
The ZIEL center in Weihenstephan continues to advance TUM’s research on food technology.Image: TUM

The entire food chain falls under the research remit of the Research Center for Nutrition and Food Sciences (ZIEL), covering everything from raw materials to the handling and processing of foodstuffs to human physiology and nutritional medicine. The institute collaborates with local and national authorities and with industry. It devises prevention programs and contributes to the development of healthy and safe foods. Research Center for Nutrition and Food Sciences (ZIEL)

Dr. Ulrich Rant of the Walter Schottky Institut uses this DNA chip to detect biomolecules. Photo: Astrid Eckert.
Dr. Ulrich Rant of the Walter Schottky Institut uses this DNA chip to detect biomolecules.Image: Eckert

Siemens and TUM founded the Walter Schottky Institute – Center for Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials (WSI) in 1988 to link basic research in physics more closely with the manufacture of semiconductors. The WSI develops new nanostructures, semiconductor materials and component prototypes as well as ultra-sensitive measurement methods in physics and chemistry. Many top executives in the semiconductor industry received their education here. Walter Schottky Institute – Center for Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials (WSI)

IMETUM combines TUM’s wealth of competence in engineering and the natural sciences with its expertise in medicine. Photo: Astrid Eckert.
IMETUM combines TUM’s wealth of competence in engineering and the natural sciences with its expertise in medicine.Image: Astrid Eckert

The diseases associated with old age will pose an ever greater challenge for society in the future. The Institute of Medical Engineering (IMETUM) is working on technologies for the treatment of these diseases. Medical engineering combines the discipline of medicine with engineering and the natural sciences. The work of IMETUM includes the development of navigational aids for complicated operations, intelligent implants and methods for the early detection of tumors. Institute of Medical Engineering (IMETUM)

TUM’s Catalysis Research Center explores new reaction mechanisms for chemicals. Photo: Andreas Heddergott.
TUM’s Catalysis Research Center explores new reaction mechanisms for chemicals.Image: Andreas Heddergott

Catalysts are used to save energy and resources in chemical reactions. They are leading the way for “green technologies”. Without catalysts, industrial chemistry would not be economically viable. The TUM Catalysis Research Center explores new reaction and synthesis paths, investigates reaction mechanisms and works closely with international partners from the worlds of science and industry. TUM’s catalysis research is built on the work of Noble Prize Winner Ernst Otto Fischer

Field tests at the Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan. Photo: TUM.
Field tests at the Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan.Image: TUM

The work of the Hans Eisenmann-Zentrum for Agricultural Science in Weihenstephan builds a bridge between basic agricultural research and practical applications of that research. From plants and animals through soil and water to ecology and economics, the research extends from molecular and cellular level to practical field experiments. This central institute provides a network for all of TUM’s chairs and institutions with an interest in agricultural science. It is also an important contact for the agricultural industry. Hans Eisenmann-Zentrum for Agricultural Science

Computer Visualization of the TranslaTUM building at the Klinikum rechts der Isar university hospital, view towards the main entrance
The modern research center is scheduled for completion by the end of 2016.Image: doranth post architekten

A research center dedicated to translational research in oncology, unique in Germany, is being built at the university hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar. Medical, engineering and natural science researchers will work closely together there to increase the chances of a cure for cancer patients through the development and clinical application of new diagnostic and treatment procedures. TranslaTUM

Other interdisciplinary research institutes at TUM

  • Radiochemistry Munich (RCM):
    This center’s research covers nuclear medicine and the radiography of various materials using neutrons. It investigates ways to detect radioactive waste and avert nuclear risks.
  • TUM Leonardo da Vinci Bionics Center:
    Bionics is essentially about learning from nature. After all, nature has found many practical solutions for complex problems throughout the history of evolution. Bionics researchers at TUM try to emulate Leonardo da Vinci by incorporating nature’s solutions into engineering developments.
  • Research Center for Industrial Biotechnology:
    Industrial biotechnology is looking for alternatives to dwindling natural resources. Research is focused on ways to convert renewable raw materials into products for the chemicals industry using biocatalysts.

Research Centers Run with Partners

No university can solve the major challenges of the 21st century on its own. That is why TUM has teamed up with partners from science and industry in various research centers.

  • Straubing Center of Science:
    Research and teaching at the Straubing Center of Science focus on the potential applications of renewable raw materials, including as an energy source. Its strength lies in a multidisciplinary approach encompassing the natural sciences and engineering as well as ecology and business. Five Bavarian universities are represented at this science center. Three chairs from TUM are involved.
  • Helmholtz Graduate School Environmental Health (HELENA):
    The doctoral students at HELENA are shedding light on the causes of complex diseases like diabetes mellitus and chronic lung disease. The research focuses on the interactions between environmental factors, lifestyle and genetic disposition. TUM, Helmholtz Zentrum München and Ludwig Maximilian University jointly undertake the doctoral teaching at HELENA.
  • Munich Aerospace:
    The working groups at Munich Aerospace are developing solutions for the key challenges facing the aerospace industry: e.g. autonomous flight systems, safety in orbit, geodetic earth observation, communication and navigation and aviation management. As part of this alliance, TUM is cooperating with the main research organizations in this field in the Munich region: Universität der Bundeswehr, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Bauhaus Luftfahrt.
  • TUM CREATE:
    The TUM CREATE research campus in Singapore is developing new mobility concepts for tropical megacities. The research is focused on electric cars and the enabling technologies. TUM CREATE is a joint project between TUM and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).