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. We regularly offer special events such as the "Girls' Day", exhibitions or lectures for various target audiences.

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"

Our motto is "Today's pupils are tomorrow's scientists". We would like to connect pupils with scientists already at a young age, convey physical methods in a clear and playful way, and encourage them to carry out experiments.

The student laboratory offers a large number of experiments on various topics to school classes of all school types, covering all age groups from grade 3 up to senior level classes.

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


The end of 2021 marks the 450th anniversary of Kepler's birth. This is a welcome occasion to honour the world-famous astronomer of today’s Baden-Württemberg. The exhibition on show endeavours to portray Kepler in all his fascinating facets.

'sky-bound' - more information and tour dates

Vertigo - Exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart
Hands-on lab Studio 11

The exhibition Vertigo. Op Art and a History of Deception 1520 - 1970 took part from November 23, 2019 until August 23, 2020 with exhibits from "Spiel der Kräfte" at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. Nine experiments with physical phenomena around light, color and oscillations were presented in the Hands-On Lab in Studio 11 next to Op Art master pieces.

Hands-on lab Vertigo

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" took place from 24th September 2016 to 19th February 2017 in the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. It covered around 120 pieces of art from the past hundred years by artists using random processes experimentally and systematically as creative methods for their art. Our contribution, the "VersuchsLabor", involved a newly developed series of interactice experiments involving randomness and chance, which visitors and school classes were invited to try out.



Hands-on randomness in the "ExperimentalLab"

In order to celebrate 100 years of the "General Theory of Relativity", the teams of "Einstein inside" from the University of Tübingen and of "Spiel der Kräfte" from the University of Stuttgart organized a joint exhibition at "Haus der Wirtschaft" in Stuttgart, which took place from May 30th to June 11th 2016.

"Einstein inside" introduced the visitors to the world of general relativity in an easily accessible and entertaining way. Multimedia stations, visualizations and animations were available for everyone to connect to the ongoing research in this field.

"Spiel der Kräfte" encouraged the visitors to experiment. Experienced guides enabled the visitors to determine Planck's constant or measure the speed of light by themselves. The visitors were able to 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 1st to 20th August 2011, encouraged people from all age groups 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 1st to 19th, 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. This event is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

In the Year of Technology 2004, the technology location Stuttgart has won the race. The physics festival for the "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. Following 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 for 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

In their work, the experimental physicists of the 5th Physics Institute deal with atoms, the smallest building blocks of matter. 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.

In this event you will learn about the tools we use in the lab. 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 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 home with them. Our aim is to show the girls how it is to work in science, what challenges and opportunities there are, and to encourage them to choose this career path in the future.

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

Robert Löw dives into science education. "The Electron in the Swimming Pool” tells stories from the amazing world of quantum physics. An entertaining narrative non-fiction book not only for children.

More about the book

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 2021

Duration: 1:16 | © IQST | Source: YouTube

On stage

Since 2018 the Q-Science Slam is held every year in February at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart. Students or young scientists take the audience on a journey into the wondrous world of quanta. 

Q-Science Slams on YouTube

Atoms in a cage. Can physics be explained using 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.

Atoms in a cage

Duration: 12:16 | Source: YouTube

All Q-Science Slams from 8 February 2018 and the following years can be found at the YouTube channel of the University of Stuttgart.

"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 artists Oliver Schmaering and Jan-Philipp Possmann from Theater Rampe 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 editor Leonie Mueck (Nature Publishing), who were connected live from China. Flaubert and the Pope also had their say in the dialogues between the worlds. Everyone in the audience was able to become a scientist themselve 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 encouraged 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


This image shows Karin Otter

Karin Otter


Outreach, CZS Center QPhoton Management Office

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