DKK 40 million for a project about simple and complex substances

As 'VILLUM Investigator', Professor of Physics Jeppe Dyre from Roskilde University will lead a research project to answer open scientific questions about simple and complex substances. The project is funded by the VILLUM FONDEN foundation.
Kristine Niss Jeppe Dyre
Professor Jeppe Dyre and Associate Professor Kristine Niss from Roskilde Univeristy. Photo: Uffe Weng

Some materials are simple and rules can be established for how they respond, while other materials are complex and often produce unexplained exceptions to the rules.

Water is an example of a complex substance that is an exception to many rules. For example, ice floats on water because ice is less dense than water, even though the general rule is that solids are denser than the corresponding liquid.

In collaboration with a number of other researchers in the “Glass and Time” research centre, Professor Jeppe Dyre from Roskilde University has developed a theory that explains many of the rules as well as their exceptions. However, there are still a number of unresolved scientific issues. Jeppe Dyre has now received a grant of DKK 39.9 million for the 6-year project “Matter”, to try to answer some of these questions.

The grant is from the VILLUM FONDEN foundation, which has provided funds to so-called “VILLUM Investigators”. This is the first time that funding of this type has been provided to a total of 11 leading Danish researchers in the areas of natural science and technology, selected from a field of 101 applicants.

"It's an incredible honour to be selected, considering the fierce competition for the coveted 'VILLUM Investigator' funding. For our part, the funding has arrived at exactly the right time, when we have formulated some new scientific questions that can only be answered by the massive research effort that this grant will allow” explains Jeppe Dyre.

Some of the unresolved issues are:

- Can the theory be expanded to also include the gas-phase?

- Can the theory say anything about quantum liquids?

- Would there be fewer exceptions to the rules, if the world had more than 3 dimensions?

An international research group

The theory that Jeppe Dyre and his colleagues have developed, says that some substances are simple, e.g. metals, plastics and oil, and most rules therefore apply to them, while other substances such as glass, stone and water are not simple.

"It was a completely unexpected result of our the Glass and Time centre funded by Danmarks Grundforskningsfond (2005-2015), to achieve a solution to many of the mysteries regarding the physics of solids and liquids. Now we are looking forward to taking the next step and seeing how far the theory goes by venturing into various scientific corners, for example to see whether we can somehow incorporate the gas-phase into the theory” says Jeppe Dyre.

The physics professor from Roskilde University will gather a team of researchers that will be divided into 6 smaller work packages, each of which will investigate one area of the project. Each work package will be headed by an experienced researcher, who will be assisted by a PhD student and a postdoc.

The research group will consist of a mixture of both Danish and foreign researchers.

The students at Roskilde University’s physics programme and on the natural science programmes engage with scientists such as Professor Jeppe Dyre.

Contact information

Professor Jeppe Dyre, tel.: 30 25 85 07, E-mail: