5th Institute of Physics


Hands-on science. Fundamental research goes public for a better understanding of science.
[Photo: Frank Eppler]

Science for all senses

Since 2003 we have been developing experimental stations on physics phenomena that are also relevant for the basic research in our laboratories. School students and interested visitors are invited to experiment, talk to scientists and experience research up close. At regular intervals we offer events such as Girls' Day, exhibitions or lectures for various target groups.

Digital electronics - from transistor to memory
Children discover the wondrous properties of ferrofluid.
Children discover the wondrous properties of ferrofluid.

School lab "Spiel der Kräfte"

According to the motto "Today's pupils are tomorrow's scientists", we would like to bring pupils already at a young age into touch with scientists, convey physical methods in a clear and playful way and encourage them to carry out experiments.

The student laboratory offers school classes of all school types from grade 3 up to upper grade a series of experiments on various topics.

Learn more about the school lab "Spiel der Kräfte" (only available in German)


From 11th to 29th September 2017 "Spiel der Kräfte" was a guest at the Gallery of Science and Technology at the Serbian Academy of Science and Art in Belgrade.

"Spiel der Kräfte" on tour in Belgrade 2017

The exhibition [un]expected. The Art of Randomness from 24.9.2016 to 19.2.2017 in the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart showed around 120 pieces of art from the past hundred years by artists who used random processes experimentally and systematically as creative methods for their art. In the "VersuchsLabor", visitors and school classes were invited to try out experiments around chance, which we developed for the exhibition "[un]expected- the art of randomness".



Hands-on randomness in the "ExperimentalLab"

100 years of General Theory of Relativity. From May 30th till June 11th in 2016  "Einstein inside" of the University of Tübingen and "Spiel der Kräfte" of the University of Stuttgart organized a joint exhibition in the Haus der Wirtschaft in Stuttgart.

"Einstein inside" introduced the visitors vividly, entertainingly and easily understandable into the world of general relativity and showed the relation to today's research. Multimedia stations, visualizations and animations offered everyone a suitable access.

"Spiel der Kräfte" invited the visitors to experiment. The visitors could determine Planck's quantum of action or measure the speed of light under expert guidance. They could discover the properties of light or gain insights into current research in Stuttgart in the field of quantum physics. 

In addition to the exhibition special lectures, guided tours, physics shows and teacher training were offered.



You can find a movie of a walking tour through the exhibition as well as the recording of the talk show "Genius, basic research and good money: Would Einstein have a chance today?" (in German language only) in the media archive of the exhibition.

Einstein inside meets Spiel der Kräfte - 2016 (German website)

"Summer of Science" at the University of Stuttgart from 1 to 20 August 2011, invited people of all ages that are interested in sciences to explore physics phenomena and take part in workshops and competitions on physics and mathematics.

Tour of the exhibition 2011


Summer of Science 2011 (German website)

Hands-on physics or physics for the senses, has already become a tradition at the 5th Institute of Physics. In 2010, the exhibition "Spiel der Kräfte" was shown for the first time outside Germany in Barcelona from March 1 to 19, 2010.

Som-hi! 2010

Inspired by the success of the Year of Physics 2000, the German Physics Society (DPG) organizes an annual physics festival in a different city of Germany each year. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports this event in a special way.

In the Year of Technology 2004, the technology location Stuttgart has won the race. The physics festival for young and old took place from 21 to 26 June 2004 on the Schlossplatz (Palace Square) Stuttgart - the largest sqare in the heart of Stuttgart. With the motto "Highlights of Physics 2004 - Play of Forces" the current name "Spiel der Kräfte" for our exhibition and the student laboratory was born.

The event was hosted by the Physics Department of the University of Stuttgart together with the Universities of Tuebingen und Hohenheim and the Max Planck Institute (Solid State Research) in Stuttgart. The scientific coordinator of the event was Prof. Dr. Tilman Pfau (University of Stuttgart, 5th Institute of Physics).

Making of


Highlights der Physik 2004 (German website)

Our first large hands-on exhibition "Experimenta - Physics for the Senses" took place in autumn 2003 from 15 September to 5 October in the Römerkastell Stuttgart. The exhibition was the result of a cooperation between the 5th Physics Institute of the University of Stuttgart and the association exploratorium - Kindermuseum Stuttgart und Region e.V.. The joint concept "Experimenta" was awarded and funded in the PUSH (Public Understanding of Science and Humanities) ideas competition of the Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg foundation.

Girls' Day

The experimental physicists of the 5th Physics Institute deal with the smallest building blocks of matter - atoms. Laser light is an important tool in the laboratory. This allows atoms to be captured and then cooled in order to investigate them more closely.

We experiment with light guides, investigate light sources with a spectrometer and create a mini laser show. A tour through our laser laboratory provides insights into the everyday life of our scientists.

Click here to register 2019

Every year on the last Thursday in April - 2019 exceptionally on 28 March - we invite interested girls to the school laboratory "Spiel der Kräfte". For half a day, they will experiment on various topics, get to know scientists, visit one of the research laboratories and create an experiment to take away. Our aim is to show the girls what it means to work scientifically, what challenges and opportunities there are and perhaps to encourage them to take this path themselves.

Review and photo album

Our motto 2018: What is swinging there?

Open Science Day at the University

Once a year on the last Saturday in June or on the first Saturday in July, the University of Stuttgart opens its laboratories to interested visitors. Exhibits, lectures, hands-on experiments: this is how research and teaching come to life.

The 5th Physics Institute invites visitors to visit one of the coldest places in the universe and gives them an insight into current research.

Exhibits from the collection "Spiel der Kräfte" invite visitors to experience physics phenomena with all their senses - touching and experimenting is expressly permitted!

On Open Science Day 2018, everything in the foyer of lecture hall V.53 revolved around pendulums and waves. Under the motto "What is swinging there?", the visitors were able to experiment under the expert guidance of the "Spiel der Kräfte" team and scientists from the Department of Physics. 

PDF-download booklet "Was schwingt denn da?" (in German language only) to our exhibition at the Open Science Day 2018.

Our activities on Open Science Day 30 June 2018

Science digest

Quantum Kate and the Rydberg atom

YouTube influencer, fashion blogger and physics expert "Quantum Kate" explains Rydberg atoms to young viewers.

Source: YouTube

The right nose for precise diagnostics

Precision spectroscopy uses Rydberg excitation to measure minute traces of nitrogen oxide. The article was published in the magazine of the University of Stuttgart "Research and Life" edition 11/2018.

Research and Life: The right nose for precise diagnostics

Florian Meinert describes how the research team at the 5th Physics Institute uses huge Rydberg molecules as tools of quantum physics to gain new insights into the quantum world. His article was published in 2017 in the journal "Physik in unserer Zeit" volume 48, issue 5.

Link to Wiley Online Library

The research team around Prof. Tilman Pfau is investigating the physics of Rydberg atoms. In the journal "International Innovation", published in 2013, they describe how small steam cells help them, what potential applications they see for future quantum technologies, and what challenges the team faces.

PDF-Download Ryding high

The spin board hangs in the hallway of the 5th Physics Institute. Rotating magnetic arrows are arranged hexagonal and can be coupled to an external magnetic field. This system was designed by Markus Falkenau in analogy to ferromagnetic solids in which the magnetic moments of the elementary particles are responsible for the magnetic properties as a result of their spins. In ferromagnetic solids the magnetic moments of the elementary particles, as a result of their spins, are responsible for the magnetic properties. In ferromagnetic solids phase shifts occur when temperature changes. In analogy to this, the arrows can be controlled  via the external magnetic field. The magnetic field can be driven in such a way that effects such as melting and solidification, that is the breaking up of an order of low energy and the emergence of an order from initially disordered motion, can be observed.

Tilman Pfau explains the spin board in the movie (only available in German)

Spin Board


Q-Science Slam 2019



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Paraglider fliegt vor blauem Himmel. Foto: Max Musterfotograf
Paraglider fliegt vor blauem Himmel
Foto: Max Musterfotograf

Link zum Download


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On stage

Live presented on February 28 at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart. Six young scientists took the audience on a journey into the wondrous world of quanta. Read more ...

Report on the 2nd Q-Science Slam 2019

Caged atoms. Can physics be explained by chickens? Robert Löw took up this challenge live on 8 February 2018 on stage in the Theaterhaus Stuttgart as one of seven slammers. All slams were presented in German.

Caged Atoms

Duration: 12:16 | Source: YouTube

All Q-Science Slams from 8 February 2018 can be found at the YouTube channel of IQST.

"She loves me, she loves me not? The quantum world offers solutions!

Science Pub at Rosenau in Stuttgart means having a relaxed drink while listening to exciting lectures on scientific topics  The ideas and organizers of the Science Pub are the Society for Natural History in Wuerttemberg e.V. together with the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart and the Association of Friends of the University of Stuttgart e.V.

The talks are given in German language.

She loves me, she loves mit not...? Quantum world offers solutions

Duration: 50:24 | Source: YouTube

Hey Du Atom, lebst Du in einer Beziehung oder bist Du Single?


The 6th Stuttgart Science Slam was held on 27.1.2016 in the Rosenau Stuttgart.

Bouvard and Pecuchet 3000

The Theater Rampe artists Oliver Schmaering and Jan-Philipp Possmann went on a journey into the world of knowledge and cognition. Also involved into the dialogues were the quantum physicists Tilman Pfau (University of Stuttgart) and Tommaso Calarco (University of Ulm), and the nature editor Leonie Mueck, who were live connected from China. Flaubert and the Pope also had their say in the dialogues between the worlds. Everyone in the audience could become scientists themselves and let a computer program write a 'scientific' paper with their name as first author or even better, submit it to Nature for publication. Optical experimental set-ups from the 'Spiel der Kräfte' collection in the laboratory invited the participants to search for new insights.

Chapter 9: Knowledge and Faith II
Oliver Schmaering (dramatic advisor and author), Tilman Pfau (physics professor at the University of Stuttgart), and  Tommaso Calarco (physics professor at the University of Ulm)
Entry: Thursday Nov 6, 2014, 8 p.m.
Lab view: Thursday Nov 11, 2014, 7 p.m.
Experiment: Thursday Dec 4, 2014, 7 p.m.

Theater Rampe


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