Bionics - Interactions Across Boundaries to the Environment (RWTH is Contributing Member)


Bionics as a Discipline

Bionics as a scientific discipline deals with the technological conversion and application of designs and procedures of biological systems. The GRTG Bionics aims at understanding principles in nature and make the usable for human purposes. More precisely, it deals with a highly promising branch of the discipline: Interactions across boundaries to the environment.

Our Research Focus

In biological systems, the boundary between the inner world and the physical environment is implemented by structurally and functionally diverse specialized interfaces (e.g., cuticle of a plant, skin of an animal, sensory cell layers with incorporated signal processing, and many more). Based on biological models of boundaries for structure-based functions (protection, reflection, mechanics, adhesion) and sensor-based functions (vision, infrared detection, electrolocation, flow detection, information processing), innovative technical systems will be conceived and developed.

Training of Early Career Scientists

The central concern of this postgraduate program is to train a group of international doctoral students to become bionics experts. Our biologists, physicists, computer scientists and engineers are working at the interface between nature and technology. Following a trans-disciplinary approach, we seek to overcome the disadvantages of the functional and conceptual specialization of mainstream university courses of study.

PhD students will investigate biological models, will simulate and test solutions for defined technical problems and learn how to transfer this knowledge into the development and commercial application of technical products.

Specialized research groups in Biology and Technology at the University of Bonn, RWTH Aachen University and Forschungszentrum Jülich will collaborate with partners from industry to identify specific models from the field of biology for specific technological challenges and to develop novel technological solutions.

Thus researchers, PhD students, and Industry will found a "bridge of science," with one bridge head in Biology and the other in applied Technology. PhD students will be active on both sides of this bridge, produce internationally recognized research results, and thus qualify for future jobs in research and industry.

Benefits for PhD Students

  • Intense mentoring by two advisors
  • Introductory and advanced teaching in Bionics and technical transfer
  • Specialized workshops and student's seminars
  • Internships with industrial partners
  • Special mentoring for women and support for students with children

Collaborating Institutions

The Research Training Group is run by researchers from the University of Bonn, Forschungszentrums Jülich, and RWTH Aachen University.


Spokesperson for the Group is Professor Gerhard von der Emde of the Institute of Zoology at Bonn University.