Competence and Research Centers

  The Rogowski Institute Copyright: RWTH Aachen

Competence and Research Centers combine specific research skills and activities of various RWTH institutions.


In contrast to the work communities, the competence centers at RWTH Aachen collaborate with a limited number of institutes, focusing on research with the goal of creating a more efficient connection between the institutions’ research activities.

The competence centers are not all structured the same way. However an arrangement is typically made by the involved institutes, in which the goals and structure of the cooperation are determined. The duration of the competence centers is unlimited.


Fields of Research

The research and competence centers at RWTH Aachen combine expertise in the following fields of research:

  • Bionics / Biomimetics
  • Brain Imaging
  • Computational Chemistry
  • Bioelectricmagnetic Interaction
  • Energy Research
  • Glass
  • Imaging & Vision
  • Integrative Lightweight Production
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)
  • Medical Technology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Optical Technology
  • Polymer Materials
  • Production Engineering
  • Raw Materials Technology
  • Steel Construction / Metallic Design
  • Virtual Reality
  • History of Science

RWTH Aachen Competence and Research Centers

AKM – Aachen Competence Center for Medical Technology

Through a variety of activities, the AKM association supports the development of medical technology in the Aachen region. It promotes the transfer of information through events and networking, facilitates partnerships, and supports young researchers and the exploration of new technologies. Members of varying disciplines evaluate current research projects, which in turn generates new impulses and identifies possible fields of application for research results that had previously not been considered.

AKR - Aachen Know-How Centre Resource Technology

A significant focus for the production of materials from natural or anthropogenic resources lies on resource and energy efficiency as well as on resource availability. To develop interdisciplinary solution approaches to these complex challenges, the non-commercial network Aachen Know-How Centre Resource Technology – AKR was founded in 2012. It acts as a coordinated contact point for RWTH Aachen University. AKR brings together over 20 RWTH professors, who contribute technical knowledge as well as know-how from the areas of resource legislation to resource economics.

AKWG - Aachen Competence Center for the History of Science

At a technical university, the examination of the historical dimensions of science is an indispensable addition to contact shaped by science and technology. The AKWG combines expertise in the history of science at RWTH Aachen to promote interdisciplinary exchange for socially relevant research processes. In general, objects from the history of science, medicine, engineering, and science are at the focus. Cultural, social, economic, and the political contexts of science make it possible to describe the place of science in the respective society. Furthermore, science can then be experienced as a productive addition to the environment.

APC – Aachen Polymer Chain

Polymer materials are the foundation for new technologies and innovative products.  Exploiting the potential of these materials by developing new products is a part of global competition.  Through their close cooperation, natural scientists and engineers cover the entire spectrum between fundamental research and applied research.  As a powerful partner, APC assumes research and development tasks in collaboration with industries responsible for creating and processing plastics.


The environmentally and health-friendly plant protection product “aqua.protect” is based on water that can be chemically activated. With the help of prognostic software, it is to be applied to plants in a targeted manner.

After use, the product does not leave any harmful residues on the plants. In order to investigate the effectiveness of aqua.protect against pathogens and develop a process for successful application, an RWTH-led consortium of project partners from business and research has been established.

AZL – Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production

In lightweight design and production research, it is no longer sufficient to investigate the individual manufacturing processes in isolation. The main objective of the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production is to transform lightweight design processes and optimize them for production. This goal, which is implemented in cooperation with other projects conducted in the field of lightweight construction, requires intense interdisciplinary collaboration between the material sciences and production technology. Several institutes on the University’s Melaten Campus provide the competencies necessary to  investigate the entire value chain. On site, more than 700 scientists are conducting research on production technologies as well as lightweight materials and applications. 

BioSC – Bioeconomy Science Center

Following an integrative strategy, the Bioeconomy Science Center (BioSC) conducts research for a sustainable bioeconomy. Since its foundation in 2010, it pools the expertise of the research and educational institutions RWTH Aachen, the University of Bonn, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, and Forschungszentrum Jülich. Currently, 54 research institutes contribute to the Center. 

The BioSC integrates all disciplines and branches of research that may contribute to the sustainable provision of biomass, bio-based products, and processes in the bioeconomy value network.

Interdisciplinary research is conducted on a host of bioeconomic topics, including the following:

  • Sustainable production of plant-based biomass taking into account the diverse, interacting paths of its utilization while safeguarding the environmental resources soil and water
  • Molecular and microbial transformation of bio-based resources into valuable materials
  • Chemical engineering technologies for the transformation of bio-based resources in integrated processes
  • Analysis and evaluation of economic preconditions for and societal effects of a bio-based economy

Bionic Center Aachen

The term bionic refers to the utilization of biological principles in technology and in the interaction between technology and biology.  Biology, on all levels including neuroscience and molecular oriented branches find insight in bionics.  Biological principles deliver suggestions for construction and information processing mechanisms in the natural sciences and engineering.  Bionics also encompasses biomaterials such as “biomechanical engineering”.  With this background, the Bionic Center supports the alliance and interdisciplinary collaboration of engineering and the life sciences.

CCC – Computational Chemistry Coalition

“Computational chemistry” refers to solving chemical problems using mathematical, numerical, and theoretical tools and methods.  RWTH’s Computational Chemistry Coalition is a multidisciplinary group of independent researchers.  The coalition consists of multiple work groups that actively contribute to solving chemical problems with computer supported methods.  With its expertise, the coalition supports both research inside and outside of the university and is involved in improving the mathematical and theoretical skills of RWTH’s chemistry students.

CCGA - Competence Center for Glass

The CCGA combines research activities that all work with glass at RWTH Aachen. The competence center offers the involved institutes lively scientific exchanges and networking, which makes it possible to rapidly gather and implement new trends and developments. The Center’s work areas span from optical fibers to load-bearing glass structures to fuel cells to thin-film technology, from the special formation of glass to the final product.  Skills are present from the fields of manufacturing and production, treatment and grafting, joining and design, and testing of the construction materials and from material properties.  

E.ON Energy Research Center

E.ON ERC is a beacon in the field of energy technology when it comes to research and interdisciplinary collaboration with the industry and institutions both inside and outside of the university. Through its organizational structure with five professors from four RWTH Faculties, the Center is equipped to look far beyond the edge of subject specific research and can dedicate itself particularly to technical research questions in larger systems.  The ERC conducts research on regenerative systems that clearly exceeds the capacities of formerly developed power generation concepts (wind energy, photovoltaic). Socioeconomic and political aspects are also integrated into all the projects.

FEMU – Forschungszentrum für Elektro-Magnetische Umweltverträglichkeit

Humans are inevitably exposed to low and high frequency technical fields of different kinds in their homes and workplaces. FEMU is a department of RWTH Aachen University Hospital that conducts interdisciplinary research on biological and medical effects of magnetic fields and waves on humans, animals, and plants.  It collaborates with various RWTH Aachen faculties and external organizations and focuses on the following questions in research: how do electromagnetic fields affect organisms, implants, and technical aids? Are there thresholds for interaction in humans (co-factors: age, health status, etc) depending on the type of field and period of exposure? What diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are at the basics of electromagnetic interaction?

I3AC – Interdisciplinary Imaging & Vision Institute Aachen

The competence center concentrates on computer vision and imaging research and development – a key technology forming the basis for numerous innovative technological developments and applications. Since research in the area of “imaging & vision” is conducted in many disciplines with varying methods and approaches, the center aims to create a holistic network of the individuals and their activities in the various fields to optimize the exchange between them. This field of research combines elements from imaging, signal and information processing, artificial intelligence, and actuator engineering. i3ac is a coalition of eleven institutes from RWTH Aachen, the Aachen University of Applied Sciences, and Forschungszentrum Jülich.

IZKF Aachen – Brain Imaging

The task and goal of the IZKF Aachen is to strengthen the translational medical research stemming from its basic research and clinic. The IZKF at UKA considers itself a development and strategy program of the RWTH Faculty of Medicine. By supporting first class research projects, it strives to greatly improve chances for fundraising high amounts of external funding.  In addition to funding research projects, the IZKF supports young researchers and offers use of equipment and expertise in its Core Facilities for research. Thus, for example, the Core Facility “Brain Imaging” at the IZKF Aachen is a central institution for the conception, implementation, and evaluation of fMRT- and PET studies within the University Hospital.

MARC – Magnetic Resonance Center

The Magnetic Resonance Center at the Institute for Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry (ITMC) exploits the full potential of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology. The equipment serves high-resolution NMR spectroscopy, NMR imaging of soft matter, and the study of the effects of chemical processes in chemical, biological, and medical engineering. One integral part of MARC is the division for mobile low-field NMR for nondestructive testing and chemical analyses at the site of interest. The unique equipment and expertise is applied to a variet of interdisciplinary research projects within ITMC, RWTH Aachen University, international cooperative projects, and industrial collaborations.


Optical technologies are used in various disciplines and special fields as "enabling technologies."  As a competence network for optical technologies, PhotonAix creates a network of business, research centers, universitites, and business and representatives from the public sector.  As a platform for information exchange, it is active in collaborated partnerships around the world, including with the Fraunhofer Center for Laser Technology, Michigan.

Proteca – Production Technology Aachen

Proteca combines research and expertise from the field of production technology with the goal of increasing Aachen's attraction as site for research and thus prepare the foundation for new settlements in the field of production technology: Expertise in production technology planning and organization, the manufacturing process and necessary machines, and quality management will all be in one location.  A focus is being placed on the developed of high-tech products.


The NanoClub networks the interdisciplinary research activities at RWTH in the fild of nano science and technology. It also acts as a platform for activities at the local, national, and European level. Focus is placed on molecular and complex systems, nanoanalytics and nanomechanics, nanoelectronics and integration, information technology, quantum information, and medical research. In medical research, the focus is particularly concentrated on diagnosis through the use of nanoparticles and ion channels.

Compressors for Aircraft Engines (Verdichter für Flugtriebwerke)

Due to the constantly increasig volume of traffic in commercial aviation, more development is needed in the creation of efficient engines.  RWTH Aachen and Germany's largest manufacturer of aircraft engines, MTU Aero Engines, are cooperating together in the competence center Compressors for Aircraft Engines.  In the center, collaboration is being intensified in the research and development of the design, construction, and manufacture of the next generation of aircraft engines.  The goal is to improve the engines' security, efficiency, weight, use, exhaust gas and acoustic emissions, manufacture and maintance costs,  among others. The collaboration ensures that young researchers gain application-oriented training and education and strengthens the university's teaching.

VRCA – Virtual Reality Center Aachen

The Virtual Reality Center Aachen (VCRA) combines and supports numerous research and teaching activities at RWTH Aachen within VR relevant fields. It enhances methodological knowledge of virtual reality through research and development and initiates collaborate, interdisciplinary research activities within the field of VR. This often takes place in the form of cooperations with external research institutions and industry partners. The VCRA organizes conferences and presents its VR projects at fairs, exhibitions, and online.

ZMB – Center for Metallic Design

RWTH Aachen has powerful institutes that deal with steel research and application in various fields. The ZMB brings together expertise from the fields of construction engineering, metallurgical engineering, automotive engineering, welding and joining technology, steel and light metal construction, and materials science. This combination offers the possibility to present close process chains in close cooperations, beginning from the choice of material up to the finished product.