Prof. Dr. Kurt Binder

Institute of Physics

Staudinger Weg 7


55099 Mainz

                                                                Curriculum vitae


10 February 1944                          I was born in Korneuburg, Austria

                                                      to Eduard Binder, technical engineer

                                                      and Anna Binder, née Eppel


1950 – 1962                                  Public schools of Vienna, Austria


1962 – 1969                                  Studies in Technical Physics

                                                      at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria


9 March 1965                                I State board examination

2 June 1967                                   II State board examination (Diploma in Physics)


1967 – 1969                                  Doctoral thesis at the Austrian Institute of

                                                      Atomic Physics, Vienna: “Berechnung der Spinkorrela-

                                                      tionsfunktionen von Ferromagnetika“ (Calculation of

                                                      the spin correlation functions in ferromagnets)


21 March 1969                              PhD in “Technical Sciences”


1969                                                                                            Karoline & Guido Krafft-Medal, Techn. Univ. Vienna, Austria


1 February 1969 -                          Assistant to Prof. Dr. G. Ortner at the

15 September 1969                       Austrian Academic Institute of Atomic Physics, Vienna


15 September 1969 -                     Scientific assistant in Physics Dept. E 14

30 September 1974                       at the Technical University of Munich, Germany

                                                      (Prof. Dr. H. Maier-Leibnitz and Prof. Dr. H. Vonach)


1 April 1972 -                                IBM postdoctoral fellow at IBM Zürich Research

31 March 1973                              Laboratory, 8803 Rüschlikon, Switzerland


13 November 1973                       Professorship offered for Theoretical Physics of

                                                      Condensed Matter at the Free University of Berlin, Germany

                                                      (which I declined)


20 December 1973                        Qualification as university professor of physics (“Habilitation”)

                                                      at the Technical University of Munich, Germany


1 April 1974 -                                Research consultant at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill,

30 September 1974                       NJ, USA (as guest of Dr. P. C. Hohenberg)


1 October 1974 -                           Professor of Theoretical Physics at the

30 September 1977                       University of Saarland in Saarbrücken, Germany


15 July 1977                                  Marriage with Marlies Ecker

                                                      (born 12 December 1948 in St. Wendel/Saar)

1 October 1977 -                           Full Professor at the University of Cologne, Germany in joint

30 September 1983                       appointment at the Kernforschungsanlage (KFA) Jülich, with

                                                      leave of absence to direct the Institute of Theory II at the

                                                      Institute of Solid State Research (IFF), Jülich


5 June 1978                                   Birth of my son Martin


30 April 1981                                Birth of my son Stefan


since October 1983                       Full Professor for Theoretical Physics at the

                                                      Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany


2 December 1986                          Appointment to the Technology Advisory Board

– December 1992                          for the German federal state Rhineland-Palatinate


1985                                              The chair offered to me at Florida State University,

                                                      Tallahassee, with a research group lead at SCRI, Super-

                                                      computer Computations Research, I also declined


May 1986 – Jan 1996                    Chairman of the Coordination Committee of the Materials

                                                      Research Center (MWFZ) at the University of Mainz


since Feb. 1987                             “adjunct professor” at the Center for Simulational

                                                      Physics, Univ. of Georgia, USA


July 1987 – Dec. 2001                  Speaker for Special Research Program SFB 262, funded

                                                      by the German National Research Foundation DFG for

                                                      research on “The glass state and glass transition of

                                                      non-metallic amorphous materials”


July 1987 – July 1995                   Appointment to the “Scientific Advisory Board” at HLRZ

                                                      high-performance computing center in Jülich, Germany


1988 – 1990 and                           Member of the IUPAP Commission C3

1996 – 1999                                  “Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics” as well as

                                                      the DNK (German national committee for IUPAP)


29 November 1988                       Position offered as Director of the

                                                      Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (Mainz),

                                                      which I refused


20 June 1989                                 Appointment as External Member of the

                                                      Max Planck Society


12 May 1992                                 Appointment as Corresponding Member of the

                                                      Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna


24 March 1993                              Receipt of the Max Planck Medal awarded by the

                                                      German Physical Society (DPG)


1999 – 2002                                  Chairman of the IUPAP C3 Commission and

                                                      Member of the IUPAP Executive Council


2001                                              Distinguished as “Highly Cited Researcher” by ISI, Philadelphia (“Top 100” List in Science Citation Index 1981-1999)


2001 (Sept. 6th)                             Berni J. Alder CECAM Prize (for Computational Physics) of the EPS





2003 (Jan. 15th) – 2005                 Elected for 2 years as the Chairman of the Physics Department

(April 30th )


2003 (Jan. 24th)                             The Staudinger-Durrer-Prize (for outstanding contributions to Monte Carlo Simulations) of the ETH Zürich


2003 (Feb. 21th)                             Appointment as Member of the Academy of Sciences

                                                      and Literature, Mainz


since 2006                                     Honorary Member of the British Institute of Physics (IOP)


2003 (Oct.)                                    Member of the University Council of the

- 2006 (Sept.)                                University of Stuttgart


2005 (Nov. 2nd)                             Appointment as External Member of the Bulgarian Academy

                                                      of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria


2007 (Jan. 24th)                             Honorary Ph.D. in Chemistry, Maria Curie-Sklodowska Univ.

                                                      Lublin, Poland


2007 (July 11th)                             Receipt of the Boltzmann Medal of IUPAP


2007 (Oct. 2007)                           Receipt of the Gutenberg Fellowship of the Johannes

                                                      Gutenberg University Mainz


2008 - 2013                                   Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute

                                                      for Colloid- and Interface Research, Potsdam


since 2009                                     Member of the “Rat für Technology, Rheinland-Pfalz”


2009 (Sept. 23rd)                           Receipt of the Lennard-Jones Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry, London.


2010 – 2012                                  Member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the

                                                      Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE)


2011                                              Vice-Chair of the Scientific Council of the John von

                                                      Neumann Institute for Computing (NIC), Jülich


April 2011                                     Appointment as member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina/Halle/Germany


since 2012                                     Chair of the Scientific Council of the john von Neumann Institute for Computing (NIC) Jülich


since 2012                                     Vice-chair of the Steering Committee of the Gauss Center for Supercomptuing


since April 1st, 2012                      retired from active service as Professor emeritus


Sept. 19th, 2012                             Honorary Medal “Marin Drinov” of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences




Jan. 30th, 2013                               Honorary PhD by the Mathematical & Natural Science Department/Faculty of the Heinrich-Heine University Duesseldorf for outstanding contributions to the special research field “TR6” “Physics of colloidal dispersions in external fields”



Supervision of Ph.D. theses/Betreuung von Doktorarbeiten


Prior to the “Habilitation” (1973), only an “inofficial” Ph.D. advisor status was possible for the following two cases:


(i)                 Volker Wildpaner “Berechnung der Magnetisierung um Gitterfehler in einem Heisenberg Ferromagneten” Technische Hochschule Wien, 1972


(ii)               Heiner-Müller-Krumbhaar “Bestimmung kritischer Exponenten am Heisenberg-Ferromagneten mit einem selbstkonsistenten Monte-Carlo Verfahren” Physik-Department, Technische Hochschule München, 1972


A)    Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken


1.      Artur Baumgärtner “Die verallgemeinerte kinetische Ising-Kette: Ein Modell für

      die Dynamik von Biopolymeren” 1977


2.      Claudia Billotet “Nichtlineare Relaxation bei Phaseübergängen: Eine Ginzburg-Landau
Theorie mit Fluktuationen” 1979


3.      Rüdiger Kretschmer “Kritisches Verhalten und Oberflächeneffekte von Systemen mit
 lang- und kurzreichweitigen Wechselwirkungen: Phänomenologische Theorie und

    Monte Carlo Simulation” 1979


4.      Ingo Morgenstern Ising Systeme mit eingefrorener Unordnung in zwei Dimensionen” 1980



B)    Universität zu Köln


5.      Kurt Kremer “Untersuchungen zur statistischen Mechanik von linearen Polymeren unter

       verschiedenen Bedingungen” 1983


6.      Jozsef Reger “Untersuchungen zur statistischen Mechanik von Spingläsern” 1985



C)    Johannes Gutenberg Universität


7.      Ingeborg Schmidt Oberflächenanreichung und Wettingphasenübergänge in

      Polymermischungen” 1986


8.      Jannis Batoulis “Monte Carlo Simulation von Sternpolymeren” 1987


9.      Hans-Otto Carmesin “Modellierung von Orientierungsgläsern” 1988


10.  Wolfgang Paul “Theoretische Untersuchungen zur Kinetik von Phasenübergängen

erster Ordnung” 1989


11.  Manfred Scheucher “Phasenverhalten und Grundzustandseigenschaften

       kurzreichweitiger Pottsgläser” 1990


12.  Hans-Peter Wittmann “Monte Carlo Simulationen des Glasübergangs von

      Polymerschmelzen im  Rahmen des Bondfluktuationsalgorithmus” 1991


13.  Burkhard Dünweg “Molekulardynamik-Untersuchungen zur Dynamik von

Polymerketten in verdünnter Lösung” 1991


14.  Friederike Schmid “Volumen-Grenzflächeneigenschaften von Modellen kubisch-

raumzentrierter binärer Legierungen: Untersuchung mittels Monte Carlo Simulation” 1991


15.  Hans-Peter Deutsch “Computer-Simulation von Polymer-Mischungen ” 1991


16.  Werner Helbing “Quanten Monte Carlo Simulation eines Rotatormoleküls” 1992


17.  Dominik Marx “Entwicklung von Pfadintegral Monte Carlo Methoden für adsorbierte

Moleküle mit inneren Quantenfreiheitsgraden” 1992


18.  Gernot Schreider “Hochtemperaturreihenentwicklungen zum geordneten und unge-

       ordneten Potts-Modell” 1993


19.  Jörg Baschnagel “Monte Carlo Simulationen des Glasübergangs und Glaszustandes von
dichten dreidimensionalen Polymerschmelzen” 1993


20.  Marco d’Onorio de Meo “Monte Carlo Methoden zur Untersuchung reiner und

      verdünnter Ferromagnete mit kontinuierlichen Spins” 1993


21.  Marcus Müller “Monte Carlo Simulation zur Thermodynamik und Struktur von

Polymer-Mischungen” 1994


22.  Klaus Eichhorn “Pottsmodelle zu Zufallsfeldern” 1995


23.  Frank M. Haas “Monolagen steifer Kettenmoleküle auf Oberflächen. Eine Monte Carlo

Simulationsuntersuchung” 1995


24.  Matthias Wolfgardt “Monte Carlo Simulation zur Zustandsgleichung glasartiger

      Polymerschmelzen 1995


25.  Martin H. Müser “Klassische und quantenmechanische Computer Simulationen zur
Orientierungsgläsern und Kristallen” 1995


26.  Stefan Kappler “Oberflächenspannung und Korrelationslängen im Pottsmodell” 1995


27.  Felix S. Schneider “Quanten-Monte-Carlo-Computersimulationsstudie der Dynamik des

      inneren, quantenmechanischen Freiheitsgrades eines Modell-Fluids in reeller Zeit” 1995


28.  Katharina Vollmayr “Abkühlungsabhängigkeiten von strukturellen Gläsern: Eine

           Computersimulation” 1995


29.  Volker Tries “Monte Carlo Simulationen realistischer Polymerschmelzen mit einem

       vergröberten Modell” 1996


30.  Martina Kreer “Quantenmechanische Anomalien bei Phasenübergängen in 2D:

      Eine Pfadintegral-Monte-Carlo Studie zu H2 und O2 physisorbiert auf Graphit” 1996


31.  Bernhard Lobe “Stargraph-Entwicklungen zum geordneten und ungeordneten Potts-

      Modell und deren Analysen” 1997


32.  Stefan Kämmerer “Orientierungsdynamik in einer unterkühlten Flüssigkeit: eine
MD-Simulation” 1997


33.  Henning Weber “Monte Carlo-Simulationen der Gasdiffusion in Polymermatrizen” 1997


34.    Rüdiger Sprengard “Raman-spectroscopyin Li2OAl2O3SiO3- glass ceramics: Simulation and crystal spectra and experimental investigations on the
Ceramization "1998


35.  Frank F. Haas “Oberflächeninduzierte Unordnung in binären bcc Legierungen” 1998


36.  Jürgen Horbach “Molekulardynamiksimulationen zum Glasübergang von

 Silikatschmelzen” 1998


37.  Matthias Presber “Pfadintegral-Monte Carlo Untersuchungen zu Phasenübergängen in

      molekularen Festkörpern” 1998


38.  Christoph Stadler “Monte Carlo Simulation in Langmuir Monolagen” 1998


39.  Andres Werner “Untersuchung von Polymer-Grenzflächen mittels Monte Carlo

Simulationen” 1998


40.  Christoph Bennemann “Untersuchung des thermischen Glasübergangs von Polymer-

      schmelzen mittels Molekular-Dynamik Simulationen” 1999


41.  Tobias Gleim “Relaxation einer unterkühlten Lennard-Jones Flüssigkeit” 1999


42.  Fathollah Varnik “Molekulardynamik-Simulationen zum Glasübergang in

     Makromolekularen Filmen” 2000


43.  Dirk Olaf Löding “Quantensimulationen physisorbierter Molekülschichten auf Graphit:

      Phasenübergänge, Quanteneffekte, und Glaseigenschaften” 2000


44.  Alexandra Roder “Molekulardynamik-Simulationen zu Oberflächeneigenschaften”

      von Siliziumdioxidschmelzen“ 2000


45.  Oliver Dillmann “Monte Carlo Simulationen des kritischen Verhaltens von dünnen”

      Ising Filmen” 2000


46.  Harald Lange “Oberflächengebundene flüssigkristalline Polymere in nematischer

            Lösung: eine Monte Carlo Untersuchung” 2001


47.  Peter Scheidler “Dynamik unterkühlter Flüssigkeiten in Filmen und Röhren” 2001


48.  Claudio Brangian “Monte Carlo Simulation of Potts-Glasses” 2002


49.  Torsten Kreer “Molekulardynamik-Simulation zur Reibung zwischen

            polymerbeschichten Oberflächen” 2002


50.  Stefan Krushev “Computersimulationen zur Dynamik und Statistik von Polybutatien-

      schmelzen” 2002


51.  Susanne Metzger “Monte Carlo Simulationen zum Adsorptionsverhalten von Homo-

      Copolymeren” 2002


52.  Claus Mischler “Molekulardynamik-Simulation zur Struktur von SiO2-Oberflächen mit

      adsorbiertem Wasser” 2002


53.  Ellen Reister “Zusammenhang zwischen der Einzelkettendynamik und der Dynamik von

Konzentrationsfluktuationen in mehrkomponentigen Polymersystemen: dynamische Mean-Field Theorie und Computersimulation” 2002


54.  Anke Winkler “Molekulardynamik-Untersuchungen zur atomistischen Struktur und

      Dynamik von binären Mischgläsern Na2O2 und (Al2O3) (2SiO2)” 2002


55.  Martin Aichele “Simulation Studies of Correlation Functions and Relaxation in

      Polymeric Systems” 2003


56.  Peter M. Virnau “Monte Carlo Simulationen zum Phasen-und Keimbildungsverhalten

      von Polymerlösungen” 2003


57.  Daniel Herzbach “Comparison of Model Potentials for Molecular Dynamics Simulation

      of Crystallline Silica” 2004


58.  Hans R. Knoth “Molekular-Dynamik-Simulation zur Untersuchung des Mischalkali-

      Effekts in silikatischen Gläsern” 2004


59.  Florian Krajewski “New path integral simulation algorithms and their application to

      creep in the quantum sine-Gordon chain” 2004


60.  Ben Jesko Schulz “Monte Carlo Simulation of Interface Transitions in Thin Film with

      Competing Walls” 2004


61.  Torsten Stühn “Molekular-Dynamik Computersimulation einer amorph-kristallinen SiO2

      Grenzschicht” 2004


62.  Ludger Wenning “Computersimulation zum Phasenverhalten binärer Polymerbürsten ” 2004


63.  Juan Guillermo Diaz Ochoa “Theoretical investigation of the interaction of a polymer

      film with a nanoparticle” 2005


64.  Federica Rampf “Computer Simulationen zur Strukturbildung von einzelnen

      Polymerketten” 2005


65.  Michael Hawlitzky “Klassische und ab initio Molekulardynamik-Untersuchungen zu

      Germaniumdioxidschmelzen” 2006


66.  Andrea Ricci “Computer Simulations of two-dimensional colloidal crystals in

      confinement” 2006


67.  Antione Carré “Development of emperical potentials for liquid silica” 2007


68.  Swetlana Jungblut “Mixtures of colloidal rods and spheres in bulk and in confinement” 2008


69.  Yulia Trukhina “Monte Carlo Simulation of Hard Spherocylinders under confinement” 2009


70.  Leonid Spirin “Molecular Dynamics Simulations of sheared brush-like systems” 2010


71.  Daniel Reith “Computersimulationen zum Einfluß topologischer Beschränkungen auf

      Polymere” 2011


72.  Alexander Winkler “Computer simulations of colloidal fluids in confinement” 2012


73.  David Winter “Computer simulations of slowly relaxing systems in external fields” 2012


74.  Dorothea Wilms “Computer simulations of two-dimensional colloidal crystals under

      confinement and shear” 2013


75.  Benjamin Block “Nucleation Studies on Graphics Processing Units” 2014


76.  Fabian Schmitz “Computer Simulation Methods to study Interfacial Tensions: From the

Ising Model to Colloidal Crystals” 2014


77.  Antonia Statt “Monte Carlo Simulations of Nucleation of Colloidal Crystals” 2015



Main Research Interests


1.    Monte Carlo simulation as a tool of computational statistical mechanics to study

     phase transitions


A main research goal has been to develop Monte Carlo techniques for the numerical study of classical interacting many body systems, with an emphasis on phase transitions in condensed matter [33,41,76,153,189,205,244,321,491,551,630,970,1132, number refer to the list of publications, see:publication list Binder.] A central obstacle to overcome are finite size effects: Ising and classical Heisenberg ferromagnets [5] exhibit the “finite size tail” in the root mean square magnetization, which is strongly enhanced near the critical point (due to the divergence of correlation length and susceptibility in the thermodynamic limit), leading to finite size rounding and shifting of the transition [16,29]. Combining this starting point with the finite size scaling theory developed by M.E. Fisher at about the same time, numerous promising first studies of phase transitions were given [33,41,75,76,92,103] but the main breakthrough came from a study of the order parameter probability distribution and its fourth order cumulant [135]. For different system sizes the cumulants (studied as function of the proper control parameter, e.g. temperature) intersect at criticality at an (almost) universal value, and this allows an easy and unbiased estimation of the critical point location. This method has helped to study phase transitions and phase diagrams of many model systems and now is widely used by many research groups. Lattice models for adsorbed monolayers at crystal surfaces have been studied to clarify corresponding experiments (e.g. H on Pd (100) [127], H on Fe (100) [145,154] or CO and N2 on graphite [398,411]. Lattice models for solid alloys have been used to understand the ordering in Cu-Au alloys [16,124,210,215], of Fe-Al alloys [355,380], and of magnetic ordering of EuS diluted with SrS [86,103,105]. Recently finite size scaling methods have also been used to study off-lattice models for the α – β phase transition in SiO2  [676] and the vapor-liquid phase transitions of CO2 [916] and various liquid mixtures [943] and good agreement with experiment was found. The technique could also be extended to very asymmetric systems, such as the Asakura-Oosawa model for colloid-polymer mixtures [823] and rod-sphere mixtures [910].


Since finite size scaling in its standard formulation needs “hyperscaling” relations between critical exponents to hold (see e.g. [135]), nontrivial generalizations needed to be developed for cases where hyperscaling does not hold, such as model systems in more than 4 space dimensions [184,195,596] and Ising-type systems with quenched random fields (such as colloid-polymer mixtures inside a randomly-branched gel) [883,939,1016]. Other generalizations concern anisotropic critical phenomena [261, see---], e.g. critical wetting transitions [1061,1068,1095], and crossover from one universality class to another [369,524,593], e.g. when the effective interaction range increases the system criticality changes to become mean-field like (an application being binary polymer blends when the chain length of the macromolecules increases [414]). An important task in the study of phase transitions by simulations is the distinction of second order phase transitions from first-order ones, a problem studied in collaboration with David Landau since also the latter are rounded (and possibly shifted) by finite size (e.g. [182,212,262,375,1066]). Some of the “recipes” developed to study phase transitions by simulations using Monte Carlo methods are reviewed in [201,375,656,912]; we also note that finite size scaling concepts are also useful for Molecular Dynamics methods, and then allow also the study of dynamic critical behavior of fluids [801,868,873].




2.    Monte Carlo simulation as a tool to study dynamical behavior in condensed matter systems


One can give the Monte Carlo sampling process a dynamic interpretation in terms of a Markovian master equation [24]; on the one hand, one can thus give statistical errors an appropriate interpretation in terms of dynamic correlation functions of the appropriate stochastic model, and understand what the slowest relaxing variables are: e.g., for a fluid these are long wavelength Fourier components of the density, when the fluid is simulated in the canonical ensemble. This “hydrodynamic slowing down” [33,76] was not recognized in the early literature on Monte Carlo simulations of fluids, where the relaxation of the internal energy was advocated to judge the approach to equilibrium. In this way, it also becomes possible to understand that the so-called “statistical inefficiency” of the Monte Carlo algorithm near second-order phase transitions simply reflects critical slowing down, and it is possible to study the latter systematically by Monte Carlo e.g. for finite kinetic Ising models [26,1132], although even with the computer power available in the 21st century this is a demanding task, and thus the early work [26] could not reach a meaningful accuracy. A subtle aspect (that still does not seem to be widely recognized) is the fact that critical slowing down leads to a systematic bias (due to finite time averaging) in the sampling of susceptibilities using fluctuation relations [298]. One also needs to be aware that the latter suffer from a lack of self-averaging [214]. At first-order transitions, rather than critical slowing down one may encounter metastability and hysteresis [33,76], but on the other hand, the decay of metastable states (via nucleation and growth) is an interesting problem, both from the point of view of analytical theory [25], phenomenological theories based on the dynamical evolution of the “droplet” size distribution [53] and via attempts to directly study nucleation kinetic by simulation [27,30]. However, these early studies of nucleation phenomena in kinetic Ising models encountered two basic difficulties: (i) due to by far insufficient computer resources, only nucleation barriers of a few times the thermal energy were accessible. (ii) ambiguities in the definition of “clusters” [51]. Both difficulties could only recently be overcome [1090], showing that only the use of the Swendsen-Wang definition of “physical clusters” allows a consistent description of nucleation phenomena in the Ising model, and then the classical theory of nucleation is compatible with the observations of the kinetics.


The dynamic interpretation of Monte Carlo sampling is the basis for a broad range of kinetic Monte Carlo studies of stochastic processes, such as diffusion in concentrated (and possibly interacting) lattice gases [126,146,163], surface diffusion [161] and kinetics of domain growth [168,179], and last but not least interdiffusion in alloys [263] and spinodal decomposition of alloys using the vacancy mechanism [297,301,319]. Other groups have taken the subject of kinetic Monte Carlo and developed it to become a powerful tool of computational materials science.



3.    Spinodal decomposition and the non-existence of spinodal curves


While generalized nonlinear Cahn-Hilliard type equations for phase separation kinetics could be derived from kinetic Ising models [37], it was emphasized that the critical singularities that result from the linearization of the Cahn-Hilliard equation are a mean-field artefact, and rather one has a gradual and smooth transition between nonlinear spinodal decomposition and nucleation [52,53,68,80,87]. To show this, a phenomenological description of spinodal decomposition in terms of the dynamics of many growing clusters was developed [68,70,80], which also allowed to understand the diffusive growth law for spinodal decomposition in liquid binary mixtures [43], and provided a dynamic scaling concept for the structure factor of phase separating systems [61,68,80]. It was numerically demonstrated by Monte Carlo estimations of small subsystem free energies that the spinodal has a well defined meaning for subsystems with a linear dimension L that is small in comparison with the correlation length [162,181], since the order parameter in such small subsystems always is essentially homogeneous. For large L the distance of the “spinodal” from the coexistence curve decays with the minus 4th power of L (in d=3 dimensions). Later this observation was explained via the phenomenological theory for the “droplet evaporation/condensation transition” [750]. The latter has been studied via simulations [966].


It needs to be emphasized that the above results apply for systems with short-range interactions. When the interaction range R diverges, nucleation gets more and more suppressed (since the interfacial free energy is proportional to R), and metastable states still have a large life time rather close to the mean field spindoal [169,219,221]. Similarly, for large R the linearized Cahn theory of spinodal decomposition is predicted to hold in the initial stages, and this has been verified for phase separation of symmetrical polymer mixtures, as reviewed in [288,702]. These Ginzburg criteria [169,219,221] explain why the spinodal is useful for mean field systems but not beyond [1074].



4.    Surface critical phenomena, interfaces, and wetting


At the critical point of a ferro- or antiferromagnet critical correlations at a free surface show an anisotropic power law decay, and the critical exponents describing this decay differ from the bulk [19,31,42,48,151,270]. A phenomenological scaling theory for surface critical phenomena could be derived [19,31] in collaboration with Pierre Hohenberg, including scaling laws relating the new critical exponents to each other and to bulk ones, and numerical evidence from both systematic high temperature expansions and simulations was obtained to support this theoretical description. The Monte Carlo simulation method uses periodic boundary conditions throughout to describe bulk systems, but free boundary conditions in one direction (and periodic in the other) are used to study thin magnetic films [29]. Also small (super paramagnetic) particles can be studies [8], where a combination of surface and size effects matters (see also [1082]). In ferroelectrics and dipolar magnets even on the mean field level the description gets more complicated [91,137], due to the fact that depolarizing fields cannot be neglected. For short-range systems, on the other hand, estimations of the critical exponents associated with the “surface-bulk multicritical point” have remained a longstanding challenge [178,276,283,294]. An interesting extension also is needed for surface criticality if the bulk system exhibits a Lifshitz point [590,637], since then the system exhibits anisotropic critical behavior in the bulk. This problem was treated by deriving an appropriate Landau theory from the lattice mean field theory of a semi-infinite ANNNI model. A similar concept was used to describe the dynamics of surface enrichment, deriving the proper boundary conditions at a surface for a Cahn-Hilliard type description from a lattice formulation [325], which also is the starting point to study surface-directed spinodal decomposition [333,348,427,495,559,565,605,668,748,963]. Finally, critical surface induced ordering or disordering at bulk first-order transitions was studied [302,500,618]. Qualitatively, such transitions are understood in terms of the gradual unbinding of an interface between the ordered and disordered phase of the system from a surface, reminiscent of wetting phenomena.


In fact, the understanding of interfaces between coexisting phases has been one of the longstanding research interests as well. It was already realized soon [140] that sampling the size-dependence of the minimum of the distribution of the order parameter that describes the two coexisting phases yields information on the “surface tension” (i.e., the interfacial excess free energy). Originally developed for the Ising model [140] and then for lattice models of polymer mixtures [472], this method has become one of the widely used standard methods to estimate surface tensions at gas-liquid transitions (e.g. [823,916,943], but only recently could the subtle finite size corrections to this method be clarified [1119,1127].


An interesting property of interfaces is the order parameter profile across the interface [391,392]. In d=3 dimensions lattice models can show a roughening transition [260,391], where in the thermodynamic limit the interfacial width diverges. The interfacial width then scales logarithmically with the interfacial area [392,611,669,673,833,968,999], and the mean field (van der Waals, Cahn-Hilliard, etc) concept of an “intrinsic interfacial profile” becomes doubtful. While this logarithmic broadening of the interfacial profile could also be established for solid-fluid interfaces [968,999], in solid-solid interfaces elastic interactions may suppress this broadening [819], yielding a well-defined intrinsic profile again. Particularly interesting are interfaces confined between walls in thin film geometry [555,587,588]; the resulting anomalous dependence of the interfacial width on the film thickness could also be proven to occur in thin films of unmixed polymer blends through appropriate experiments [513,578].


Interfaces confined between parallel walls can also undergo an interface location/delocalization transition [272,442,468,503,571,638,653,659,681,820]. This transition is the analog  of the interface unbinding from a surface of a semi-infinite system, i.e. wetting transition, which is a difficult critical phenomenon in the case of short-range forces [206,222,233,277,295,313,353,572,1024,1061,1092]. Interesting interface unbinding transitions were also found in wedges [764,767] and bi-pyramide confinement [815,835], giving rise to unconventional new types of critical phenomena. Also interesting first-order transitions such a capillary condensation [344,356,677] can be studied for systems confined in strips, cylindrical or slit-like pores [275,834,874,1006,1008]. Then also phenomena such as heterogeneous nucleation at walls [967,974,1062] come into play; however, this problem is difficult since it requires consideration of both curvature effects on the interfacial free energy [966,1011,1045,1047,1051] and possible effects due to the line tension [1021,1131]. First steps of a methodology to deal with all these problems via simulations were developed [966,968, 1011,1021,1029,1045,1047,1051,1057,1062,1131]. Particularly challenging is the treatment of crystal nucleation from fluid phases, since in general the interface free energy depends on the interface orientation relative to the lattice axes [1135,1137,1138]. A methodology to circumvent this problem was invented [1133,1135], analyzing the equilibrium between a crystal nucleus and surrounding fluid in a finite simulation box, using a new method to sample the fluid chemical potential.



5.    Spin glasses and glass-forming fluids


The “standard model” for spin glasses is the Edwards-Anderson model, i.e. an Ising Hamiltonian where the exchange coupling is a random quenched variable, either drawn from a Gaussian distribution or chosen as +/- J. First Monte Carlo simulations of this model in d=2 dimensions [60,66] showed a cusp-like susceptibility peak similar to experiment; however, now it is known that this peak simply is an effect of the finite (short) observation time, and spin glass-like freezing in d=2 occurs at zero temperature only [104,106]. Recursive transfer matrix calculations [104,106] showed that at T=0 spin-glass-type correlations exhibit a power law decay with distance in the +/-J model. The spin-glass correlation length and associated susceptibility diverge with power laws of 1/T as the temperature T tends to zero [106]. Also a more realistic site disorder model for the insulating spin glasses EuS diluted with SrS was developed, and good agreement with experiment was found [86,105], and critical magnetic fields in spin glasses were discussed [164,171]. Also some aspects of random field Ising models [159,174,421] and random field Potts models [479,521] were considered. Together with Peter Young a comprehensive review on spin glasses was written, encompassing experiments, theory, and simulation; this highly cited paper still is the standard review of the field.


Considering Edwards-Anderson models where spins are replaced by quadrupole moments one obtains models for “quadrupolar glasses” [234,238,250,268,291,306,474,515,567,583,679,691,694,730,766], which can be realized experimentally by diluting molecular crystals with atoms which have no quadrupole moment (e.g. N2 diluted with Ar, or K(CN) diluted with K Cl [387]). An atomistic model for such a system was simulated in [540], and a detailed review is found in [387].


Also various contributions were made attempting to elucidate the “grand challenge problem” how a supercooled fluid freezes into a glass. First studies were devoted to develop a lattice model for the glass transition of polymers, introducing “frustration” in the bond fluctuation model via energetic preference for long bonds, which “waste” lattice sites for further occupation by monomers [334,374,388,400,405,417,423,433,435,476,493,496,506,528,549,696]. It was shown that much of the experimental phenomenology could be reproduced (stretched relaxation, time-temperature superposition principle, Vogel-Fulcher relation describing the increase of the structural relaxation time, and evidence in favor of the mode coupling theory as a description of the initial stages of slowing down). Many of these features could also be demonstrated by molecular dynamics simulations of a more realistic off-lattice bead spring model of macromolecules [577,598,600,617,628,708,709], including an analysis of the surface effects on the glass transition in thin polymer films [708,709]. However, a particular highlight of the bond fluctuation model studies was the evidence [493,506,528] that the Gibbs-DiMarzio description of the “entropy catastrophe” at the Kauzman temperature is an artefact of rather inaccurate approximations. Also attempts to map the lattice model to real polymers gave promising results [329,519].


Molecular dynamics simulations were also carried out for two other models of glassforming fluids, the Kob-Anderson binary Lennard-Jones mixture [510,568,684,690,738] and a model for SiO2 and its mixtures with other oxides [531,535,568,569,597,632,649,672,685] in particular; the logarithmic dependence of the apparent glass transition temperature on the cooling rate [510,535], evidence for the Goetze mode coupling theory [586], evidence for growing dynamic length scales extracted from surface effects [690,738,756,781], and percolative sodium transport in sodium disilicate melts [736] deserve to be mentioned. However, none of these studies gave insight whether or not the structural relaxation time truly diverges at nonzero temperatures, and what a proper “order parameter” distinguishing the glass from the supercooled fluid is. The current state of the art is summarized in a textbook (written with W. Kob) [1035]


6.    Studies of macromolecular systems


While a formulation of a Monte Carlo Renormalization Group scheme [121 aimed at a better understanding of the critical exponents describing the self-avoiding walk problem, the first simulation of a dense melt of short chains [128] was motivated by experimental work [130,150] that gave evidence for the Rouse-like motions of the monomers only, not for snakelike “reptation” of the chain in a tube formed by its environment. However, later simulations of much longer chains [307,339,379,418,666] succeeded to study the crossover from the Rouse model to reptation in detail.


A famous problem of polymer science is the adsorption transition of a long flexible macromolecule from a dilute solution (under good solvent conditions) at an attractive wall [149,745,763,1012,1034,1083,1084]. In early work [149], recognizing the analogy to the surface-bulk multicritical point of the phase transitions of semi-infinite n-vector models, the deGennes conjecture for the crossover exponent could be disproven, but the precise value of this exponent has remained controversial for decades, and only recent work [1083] applying the pruned-enriched Rosenbluth method to very long chain molecules and using a comparative study of various ranges of the adsorption potential could clarify the situation. However, open questions still remain concerning the adsorption of semiflexible chains [1084]. The latter show a complicated crossover behavior also in bulk solution, particularly when exposed to stretching forces, which could be elucidated only recently [1039,1052,1077]. The fact that the standard definition of the persistence length of semiflexible polymers holds only for Gaussian “phantom chains” [933] has hampered progress in this field, in particular when the extension to polymers with complex chemical architecture (such as “bottlebrush polymers” [877,904,985,1025,1055]) is considered.


A very interesting problem involving only the statistical mechanics of a single chain concerns confinement inside a tube [188,899,934,1000] or in between parallel plates [455,566,935], or the competition between chain collapse in poor solvents [148,439,969,978] and adsorption [915,945,948,1129]. Related single chain phase transitions (which often show inequivalence between different ensembles of statistical mechanics due to the geometrical constraints that are present) concern the “escape transition” of compressed mushrooms [609,610] or compressed polymers [1107] or the “coil-bridge”-transition [1118]. Polymer collapse in poor solvents gives rise to a rich phase diagram, when bottle-brushes are considered, due to pearl necklace type structures [988,997,1010].


While for phase transition of single chains their connectivity provides unique features, phase transitions in many-chain systems often have analogs in small molecule systems, but show also characteristic differences due to the large size of a polymer coil. Nucleation and spinodal decomposition in polymer mixtures for very long chains behave almost mean-field like [166,169,399]; with respect to the critical point of unmixing, crossover from Ising to mean field behavior is observed with increasing distance from the critical point [390,399,414]. Nevertheless, the Flory-Huggins theory for polymer blends is fairly inaccurate [226], when one extracts Flory-Huggins parameter from scattering experiments via this theory a spurious concentration dependence results [240,264] and the chain linear dimensions depend on the thermodynamic state [251], particularly in semidilute solutions [446]. But early versions of integral equation theories of blends even performed worse [338]. In d=2 dimensions, however, the critical temperature scales sublinearly with chain length [744,828]. Particularly interesting is mesophase separation in block copolymer melts [315,318], where simulations revealed a pretransitional stretching (into a dumbbell-like conformation) of the chains, in agreement with experiments performed independently at the same time. Also the interplay of confinement in thin films and lamellar ordering produces a rich phase diagram, relevant for experiment [385,432,622,623], while block copolymers in selective solvent show micelle formation [585,602,654,664,878,930]. These simulations (for finite chain lengths) clearly reveal the shortcomings of the “selfconsistent field theory”, which in theoretical polymer physics often is taken as something like the “gold standard”. Also simulations of “polymer brushes” (chains grafted densely with one chain end on a planar or curved substrate) [336,365,381,434,461,697,750,771,790,837,847,869,906,944,1017,1043,1059,1067,1069 1073,1093,1116,1124] have revealed similar limitations of the standard theories. Thus, Monte Carlo simulation for polymeric systems has become a particularly fruitful method. 





- Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (German Physical Society)

- Hochschulverband (union of the institutes of higher education in Germany)

- Institute of Physics, UK (Fellow)



Participation in Special Research Programs funded by DFG, German research foundation


                        SFB 130   “Ferroelectrics” 1976 – 1978 (heading a subdivision)

                        SFB 125   “Magnetic moments in metals” 1978 – 1983

                        SFB 41     “Macromolecules” 1984 – 1987 (heading a subdivision)

                        SFB 262   “The glass state and glass transition of non-metallic

                                              amorphous materials” (heading a subdivision 1987-2001)

                        SFB 625    “From single molecules to nanoscopic structural materials”

                                            (heading a subdivision 2002-2013)

                        SFB TR6   “Physics of Colloidal Dispersions in External Fields”

                                            (heading a subdivision 2002-2013)


Work on conference organization and program committees


1975      NATO Advanced Study Institute, Geilo, Norway

as of    1975    MECO (Middle European Cooperation on Statistical Physics)

1979      ICM (International Conference on Magnetism) Munich, Germany

1979      Jülicher Ferienkurs – The Physics of Alloys, Jülich, Germany

1980      IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Edmonton, AL / Canada

1981      Les HouchesWinter School“, Les Houches, France

1982      Jülicher Ferienkurs – The Physics of Polymers, Jülich, Germany

1983      IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Edingburgh, Great Britain

1985      ICM (International Conference on Magnetism) San Francisco, CA, USA

1986      IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Boston, MA. USA

1989      IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

1992      IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Berlin, Germany

1993      13th General Conference of the EPS Condensed Matter Division,

Regensburg, Germany

1995      IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Xiamen, China

1995    Director of Euroconference “Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics of Condensed Matter Systems”
Como, Italy (with G. Ciccotti)

1996    EPS-APS Conference on Computational Physics, Cracow, Poland

1998    EPS-APS-IUPAP Conference on Computational Physics, Granada, Spain

2000      Co-Director of NATO ARW “Multiscale Simulations in Chemistry and Biology”, Eilat,

Israel (with A. Brandt and J. Bernholc)

2001      IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Cancun, Mexico

2001    EPS-APS-IUPAP Conference on Computational Physics, CCP 2001, Aachen, Germany (Vice Chairman)

2002      EPS-APS-IUPAP Conference on Computational Physics, CCP2002, San Diego, USA

            2004    IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Bangalore, India

            2004    EPS-APS-IUPAP Conference on Computational Physics, CCP2004, Genova, Italy

            2005    Co-Director of Erice Summer School, Erice, Italy

            2007    IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Genova, Italy

            2007    EPS-APS-IUPAP Conference on Computational Physics, CCP2007, Brussels, Belgium

since   2010     Steering Committee of the Granada Seminar on Computational and Statistical Physics

            2010    IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Cairns, Australia

            2010    EPS-APS-IUPAP Conference on Computational Physics, CCP2010, Trondheim, Norway

            2011    Liquid Matter Conference, Vienna, Austria

            2013    IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Seoul, Korea

            2015    EPS-APS-IUPAP Conference on Computational Physics, CCP 2015, Guwahati, India

            2016    IUPAP Conference on Statistical Physics, Lyon, France




1979        Springer, Berlin Monte Carlo Methods in Statistical Physics (2nd Edition 1986)

1984    Springer, Berlin Applications of the Monte Carlo Method in Statistical Physics

            (2nd Edition)

1992        Springer, Berlin The Monte Carlo Method in Condensed Matter Physics


1995         Oxford University Press, New York Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics Simulations in Polymer Science

1996         Societa Italiana di Fisica, Bologna

            Monte Carlo and Molecular Multiscale Computational Methods in Chemistry and


2001        IOS Press, Amsterdam Multiscale Computational Methods in Chemistry and


2006    Springer, Berlin Computer Simulations in Condensed Matter: From Materials

            to Chemical Biology I, II

1979 – 1982, 1988 – 1990 Editorial board Journal of Statistical Physics

1984 – 1989      Editorial board Journal of Computational Physics

as of 1983          Editorial board Ferroelectrics Letters

as of 1987          Editorial board Computer Physics Communications

as of 1991          Editorial board International Journal of Modern Physics C (Physics and Computers)

as of 1992          Editorial board Die Makromolekulare Chemie, Theory and Simulations

1993 – 1996      Advisory board Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter

as of 1996          Advisory board Physica A

as of 1998          Editorial boards, Monte Carlo Methods and Applications

2000-2002         Editorial board, European Journal of Physics

2000-2002         Editorial board, Journal of Statistical Physics

2000-2003         Editorial board, Europhysics Letters Editorial board, Journal of Statistical Physics

2003-2005         Editorial board, Current Opinion in Materials Science

2003-2005         Editorial board, Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics

as of 2010          Journal of Statistical Physics

2006-2011         Editorial board, Journal of Physics A: Mathematics and General

2011-2013         Advisory Board, Journal of Chemical Physics





I provide expert reviews for the following institutions:


German National Research Foundation, DFG


Membership in SFB expert reviewal groups (Bayreuth, Bochum-Düsseldorf-Essen, Bonn, Tübingen-Stuttgart, Aachen-Jülich-Köln, Berlin, Halle) and expert opinions for DFG priority “Computer-Simulation in der Gitterreichtheorie”, also serving as referee for individual reviews and the Heisenberg Program.


Volkswagen Foundation

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Austrian Fund to promote scientific research (Vienna)

National Science Foundation (Washington D.C.)

NATO Division for Scientific Affairs (Brussels)

Science Foundation of the Czech Republic, of Israel, the Netherlands, etc.

German Israeli Foundation (GIF)

BSF (Binational USA-Israel Science Foundation)


Referee for numerous journals: Phys. Rev. Lett., Phys. Rev. A, B, E, Physics Letters, Journal of Physics A, C, F, Europhysics Lett., Journal de Physique (Paris), Zeitschrift für Physik B, Journal of Chemical Physics, Solid State Comm., Physics Reports, Advances in Physics, Journal of Statistical Physics, Journal of Computational Physics, Physica status solidi, Canadian Journal of Physics, Surface Science, Computer Phys. Commun., Colloid & Polymer Sci., Die makromolekulare Chemie, Journal of Polymer Science, Macromolecules, Ferroelectrics, Journal of Noncrystalline Solids, Nuclear Physics B, Langmuir; Revs. Mod. Phys.; Eur. Phys. J. B, E; J. Phys. Chem. B, etc.




Once in a while I find time to be at home. I enjoy playing the piano and do work in our garden.





Mainz, January 1st, 2016                                                       Prof. Dr. Kurt Binder