Prof. Dr. Barbara Niethammer

Director of Graduate Studies

E-mail: niethammer(at)
Phone: +49 228 73 2216
Room: 2.039
Location: Mathematics Center
Institute: Institute for Applied Mathematics
Research Areas: Research Area C1
Interdisciplinary Research Unit D3-5

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 of 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 cannot be described by a mean-field equation. 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 “Self-similarity in Smoluchowski's coagulation equation”
within Collaborative Research Center SFB 1060 “The Mathematics of Emergent Effects”, 2013 - 2020

Project “Screening effects in interacting particle systems”
within Collaborative Research Center SFB 1060 “The Mathematics of Emergent Effects”, 2017 - 2020

“Bonn International Graduate School of Mathematics”
Director, since 2017

Selected Publications

[1] Barbara Niethammer
Derivation of the LSW-theory for Ostwald ripening by homogenization methods
Arch. Ration. Mech. Anal. , 147: (2): 119--178
DOI: 10.1007/s002050050147
[2] Barbara Niethammer, Felix Otto
Domain coarsening in thin films
Comm. Pure Appl. Math. , 54: (3): 361--384
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
DOI: 10.1023/A:1004546215920
[4] B. Niethammer, J. J. L. Velazquez
Screening in interacting particle systems
Arch. Ration. Mech. Anal. , 180: (3): 493--506
DOI: 10.1007/s00205-005-0401-6
[5] B. Niethammer
On the evolution of large clusters in the Becker-Döring model
J. Nonlinear Sci. , 13: (1): 115--155
DOI: 10.1007/s00332-002-0535-8
[6] Govind Menon, Barbara Niethammer, Robert L. Pego
Dynamics and self-similarity in min-driven clustering
Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. , 362: (12): 6591--6618
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
DOI: 10.1007/s00332-011-9122-1
[8] B. Niethammer, J. J. L. Velazquez
Self-similar solutions with fat tails for Smoluchowski's coagulation equation with locally bounded kernels
Comm. Math. Phys. , 318: (2): 505--532
DOI: 10.1007/s00220-012-1553-5
[9] Michael Helmers, Barbara Niethammer, Juan J. L. Velazquez
Mathematical analysis of a coarsening model with local interactions
J. Nonlinear Sci. , 26: (5): 1227--1291
DOI: 10.1007/s00332-016-9304-y
[10] Michael Herrmann, Barbara Niethammer, Juan J. L. Velazquez
Rate-independent dynamics and Kramers-type phase transitions in nonlocal Fokker-Planck equations with dynamical control
Arch. Ration. Mech. Anal. , 214: (3): 803--866
DOI: 10.1007/s00205-014-0782-5

Publication List

MathSciNet Publication List (external link)

ArXiv Preprint List (external link)


• SIAM Multiscale Modeling and Simulation
• Kinetic and Related Models
• Research in Mathematical Sciences



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


International Congress of Mathematicians, Seoul, South Korea


Dynamics Days Europe, Exeter, England, UK


Emmy-Noether Lecture, Annual meeting of DMV, Karlsruhe, Germany


Annual SIAM meeting, Plenary talk, Toronto, Canada (online due to Corona virus pandemic)


Free Boundary problems, Plenary talk, Berlin, Germany

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)

Sven-Joachim Kimmerle (2009): “Macroscopic Diffusion Models for Precipitation in Crystalline Gallium Arsenide - Modelling, Analysis and Simulation”

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”

Richard Schubert (2019): “On the effective properties of suspensions”
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