Prof. Dr. Barbara Niethammer

E-mail: niethammer(at)
Phone: +49 228 73 2216
Room: 2.039
Location: Mathematics Center
Institute: Institute for Applied Mathematics
Research Area: Research Area B
Mathscinet-Number: 359693

Academic Career


PhD in Mathematics, University of Bonn

1996 - 1997

Postdoc, Courant Institute, New York University, NY, USA

1997 - 2003

Research Assistant (C1), University of Bonn


Guest scientist, Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig


Habilitation in Mathematics, University of Bonn

2003 - 2007

Professor (C4), HU Berlin

2007 - 2012

Professor in the Mathematical Institute and Tutorial Fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, England, UK

Since 2012

Professor (W3), University of Bonn

Research Profile

My research interests are in applied mathematics and include the analysis of problems with multiple scales, dynamics in high-dimensional dynamical systems and universal scaling behaviour in models of mass aggregation and coarsening.

A focus of my earlier research was Ostwald ripening, a fundamental process in the aging of materials, where small solid particles immersed in a liquid interact to reduce their total surface energy. The classical LSW theory suggests a mean-field equation for the size distribution of particles and predicts universal long-time behaviour of solutions. I have been working on a clarification on the range of validity of the LSW model [1,2] as well as on the analysis of the long-time behaviour of its solutions. Surprisingly, it turned out that the latter is not universal as predicted by LSW, but rather depends sensitively on the initial data [3]. A central issue in Ostwald ripening and many other problems where particles interact through a field is the understanding of screening effects, which means that interactions between particles that are in principle long-range are screened by neighbouring particles [4]. Subsequently I investigated further mean-field type equations for various coarsening mechanisms [5,6,7] and recently obtained some new results for Smoluchowski's coagulation equation [8] for which, apart from some exactly solvable models, only few results had been available.

In many coarsening systems that are relevant in applications, such as grain growth in polycrystals for example, the particle statistics can not be described by a mean-field eqution. A future goal is to develop methods to characterize initial configurations that exhibit a universal scaling behaviour. First steps in this direction for a one-dimensional toy model can be found in [9].
I am also interested in the reduction of high-dimensional dynamical systems with small parameters to low-dimensional evolution equations. On example arises in the description of many-particle storage systems. The corresponding mathematical problem involves nonlocal Fokker-Planck equations with multiple scales that can be reduced in certain regimes to rate independent systems that exhibit hysteresis [10].

Research Projects and Activities

Project in DFG Research Center MATHEON on “Precipitation in crystalline solids”
2004 - 2008

DFG Research Group FOR 718 “Analysis and Stochastics in Complex Physical Systems”,
Member, 2005 - 2007

DFG Graduate School on “Analysis, Numerics and Optimization of Multiphase Problems”
Member, 2005 - 2008

International Joint Project, Royal Society and CNRS, “Kinetic models with mass transport and coalescence”
2010 - 2012

Project within Collaborative Research Center SFB 1060 on “Self-similarity in Smoluchowski's coagulation equation”
2013 - 2020

Project within Collaborative Research Center SFB 1060 on “Screening effects in interacting particle systems”
2017 - 2020

Contribution to Research Areas

Research Area B

Selected Publications

[1] Barbara Niethammer
Derivation of the LSW-theory for Ostwald ripening by homogenization methods
Arch. Ration. Mech. Anal. , 147: (2): 119--178
ISSN: 0003-9527
DOI: 10.1007/s002050050147
[2] Barbara Niethammer, Felix Otto
Domain coarsening in thin films
Comm. Pure Appl. Math. , 54: (3): 361--384
ISSN: 0010-3640
DOI: 10.1002/1097-0312(200103)54:3<361::AID-CPA4>3.0.CO;2-V
[3] Barbara Niethammer, Robert L. Pego
Non-self-similar behavior in the LSW theory of Ostwald ripening
J. Statist. Phys. , 95: (5-6): 867--902
ISSN: 0022-4715
DOI: 10.1023/A:1004546215920
[4] B. Niethammer, J. J. L. Velázquez
On the convergence to the smooth self-similar solution in the LSW model
Indiana Univ. Math. J. , 55: (2): 761--794
ISSN: 0022-2518
DOI: 10.1512/iumj.2006.55.2854
[6] Govind Menon, Barbara Niethammer, Robert L. Pego
Dynamics and self-similarity in min-driven clustering
Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. , 362: (12): 6591--6618
ISSN: 0002-9947
DOI: 10.1090/S0002-9947-2010-05085-8
[7] Michael Herrmann, Philippe Laurençot, Barbara Niethammer
Self-similar solutions to a kinetic model for grain growth
J. Nonlinear Sci. , 22: (3): 399--427
ISSN: 0938-8974
DOI: 10.1007/s00332-011-9122-1
[8] B. Niethammer, J. J. L. Velázquez
Erratum to: Self-similar solutions with fat tails for Smoluchowski's coagulation equation with locally bounded kernels [\refcno 3020166]
Comm. Math. Phys. , 318: (2): 533--534
ISSN: 0010-3616
DOI: 10.1007/s00220-013-1661-x
[10] Michael Herrmann, Barbara Niethammer, Juan J. L. Velázquez
Rate-independent dynamics and Kramers-type phase transitions in nonlocal Fokker-Planck equations with dynamical control
Arch. Ration. Mech. Anal. , 214: (3): 803--866
ISSN: 0003-9527
DOI: 10.1007/s00205-014-0782-5
[11] B. Niethammer, J. J. L. Velázquez
Self-similar solutions with fat tails for Smoluchowski's coagulation equation with locally bounded kernels
Comm. Math. Phys. , 318: (2): 505--532
ISSN: 0010-3616
DOI: 10.1007/s00220-012-1553-5
[12] Michael Herrmann, Barbara Niethammer, Juan J. L. Velázquez
Kramers and non-Kramers phase transitions in many-particle systems with dynamical constraint
Multiscale Model. Simul. , 10: (3): 818--852
ISSN: 1540-3459
DOI: 10.1137/110851882
[13] Michael Herrmann, Barbara Niethammer
Kramers' formula for chemical reactions in the context of Wasserstein gradient flows
Commun. Math. Sci. , 9: (2): 623--635
ISSN: 1539-6746
[14] D. Peschka, A. Münch, B. Niethammer
Self-similar rupture of viscous thin films in the strong-slip regime
Nonlinearity , 23: (2): 409--427
ISSN: 0951-7715
DOI: 10.1088/0951-7715/23/2/010
[15] Barbara Niethammer, Robert L. Pego
Well-posedness for measure transport in a family of nonlocal domain coarsening models
Indiana Univ. Math. J. , 54: (2): 499--530
ISSN: 0022-2518
DOI: 10.1512/iumj.2005.54.2598
[16] Pierre-Emmanuel Jabin, Barbara Niethammer
On the rate of convergence to equilibrium in the Becker-Döring equations
J. Differential Equations , 191: (2): 518--543
ISSN: 0022-0396
DOI: 10.1016/S0022-0396(03)00021-4
[17] Barbara Niethammer, Felix Otto
Ostwald ripening: the screening length revisited
Calc. Var. Partial Differential Equations , 13: (1): 33--68
ISSN: 0944-2669
DOI: 10.1007/PL00009923
[18] B. Niethammer
On the evolution of large clusters in the Becker-Döring model
J. Nonlinear Sci. , 13: (1): 115--155
ISSN: 0938-8974
DOI: 10.1007/s00332-002-0535-8

Publication List


• SIAM Multiscale Modeling and Simulation
• Kinetic and Related Models



Richard von Mises Prize, GAMM


Whitehead Prize, London Mathematical Society

Selected Invited Lectures


Annual Meeting of GAMM, Gdansk, Poland


Equadiff, Loughborough, England, UK


SIAM, Mathematical Aspects of Materials Science, Philadelphia, PA, USA


ICM, Seoul, Korea


Dynamics Days Europe, Exeter, England, UK

Selected PhD students

Reiner Henseler (2007): “A Kinetic Model for Grain Growth”

Dirk Peschka (2008): “Self-Similar Rupture of Thin Liquid Films with Slippage” (joint with Andreas Münch),
now Assistant, Weierstrass Institute, Berlin

Sven-Joachim Kimmerle (2009): “Macroscopic Diffusion Models for Precipitation in Crystalline Gallium Arsenide - Modelling, Analysis and Simulation”,
now Substitute Professor (“Vertretungsprofessor”), Bundeswehr University Munich

Michael Helmers (2011): “Kinks in a model for two-phase lipid bilayer membranes”

Sebastian Throm (2016): ''Self-similar solutions with fat tails for Smoluchowski's coagulation equation''
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