Theoretical physics: Matter at all scales

Leiden physicists will be participating in a national collaboration uniting the exotic and fundamental behaviour of matter in a common mathematical language. The consortium has been awarded 18.3 million euro from the Gravitation Fund of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Their field of research extends from dark matter in black holes to how electrons behave in superconductors.

Theoretical physics: a common mathematical language for all mysterious matter

What do superconductivity at high temperatures, dark matter in space and loss of quantum behaviour in quantum computers have in common? One: they continue to confound physicists and astronomers. Two: they are extremely fundamental problems that have to be solved in order to answer the most important questions, such as: Why is there something and not nothing? And three: they are all three part of the domain of theoretical physics, which has one language to describe all that it encompasses: mathematics. Whether dealing with electrons in a superconductor, or dark matter in a black hole: the mathematical equations can be the same.

Delta Institute for Theoretical Physics

The institutes for theoretical physics at the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and Leiden University have joined forces in D-ITP: the Delta Institute for Theoretical Physics. Particle physicists, cosmologists and solid matter physicists work together in this Institute to express newly discovered, exotic and fundamental behaviour of materials in a common physics using the language of maths. From dark matter in black holes to electron behaviour in superconductors.

Breeding ground
With these millions of euros in funding, D-ITP can also function as a breeding ground for world talent in theoretical physics, by attracting the best PhD candidates in the world.


Matter at all Scales 
Subsidy: 18.3 million euro 
Lead researchers: Professors Erik Verlinde and Jan de Boer ( University of Amsterdam), Gerard ’t Hooft and Henk Stoof (Utrecht University) and Carlo Beenakker and Jan Zaanen (Leiden University).

The Gravitation programme is financed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. In total, six research teams from different Dutch universities have been granted funds to collaborate in creating excellent scientific research programmes over a period of ten years. Minister Bussemaker has made 167 million euro available for six projects.  


With Gravitation, the Ministry and NWO are giving a new impetus to collaboration at the highest scientific level. The excellent consortia are intended to give a high profile to top university research. Among the projects selected are also two consortia in which Leiden physicists are participating.


The NWO Gravitation programme


(15 November 2012)

See also

• Fundamentals of Science is one of the six profile themes of research at Leiden University
Millions for Leiden physicists and child and family studies experts in Gravitation programme

Last Modified: 15-11-2012