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Physical Biology of the Cell 2

Module PH2014

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of SS 2022 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
SS 2022SS 2021SS 2020SS 2019SS 2018SS 2017WS 2015/6SS 2011

Basic Information

PH2014 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered in summer semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Specific catalogue of special courses for Biophysics
  • Specific catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Focus Area Bio-Sensors in M.Sc. Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physics
  • Elective Modules Natural Sciences in the Master Program Matter to Life
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 30 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2014 is Hendrik Dietz.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


  1. Biological Optical Microscopy
    imaging errors, resolution, biological lens systems, camera systems, energy conversion in the eye
  2. Fluorescence microscopy
    - basics
    - Modern methods: FRET, FCS, FRAP, STED, PALM, FCS
  3. Physics of hearing
    Structure of the ear, impedance conversion, mechano-electrical signal conversion
  4. Physics of membranes
    Hydrophobic effect, interfacial tension   
  5. Viruses, Immunology
    Structure of viruses, packaging and dissemination of genetic information, function of the immune system

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of the module the students are able to

  1. know modern microscopy methods in biophysics, especially single molecule and fluorescence methods,
  2. understand the functioning of the ear, in particular the methods that led to the knowledge of the functioning of the ear
  3. understand biological membranes and hydrophobicity (macroscopic and microscopic)
  4. understand equilibrium-non-equilibrium thermodynamics
  5. describe the structure of viruses
  6. describe the function of the immune system


Regular admission requirements for the Masters Degree Program (PH2013 recommended).

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

In the thematically structured lecture the learning content is presented. With cross references between different topics the universal concepts in biophysics are shown. In scientific discussions the students are involved to stimulate their analytic-physics intellectual power. The lecture is based on original publications, which are used to encourage students for more extensive literature search and reading.


Lecture, presentation, blackboard, exercises, publications, demonstration experiments


  • B. Alberts: Molecular Biology of the Cell, Norton & Company, (2014)
  • E. Sackmann: Lehrbuch der Biophysik, Wiley-VCH, (2010)
  • J.R. Lakowicz: Principles of Fluorescence Spectroscopy, Springer, (2013)
  • P. Nelson: Biological Physics: Energy, Information, Life, W.H. Freeman, (2007)
  • R. Philipps: Physical Biology of the Cell, Garland Science, (2013)

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be a written exam of 60 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions and sample calculations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Name the structure of a chemical master equation and strategies to solve the equation
  • Explain molecular collision rates / reaction rates and approaches to estimating them
  • Explain the properties of an Einstein polymer in equilibrium
  • Explain the energetics of ATP hydrolysis
  • Explain the methods to study the dynamics of molecular motors
  • Sketch the essential aspects of photosynthesis
  • Explain the structure and functionality of ATP synthase

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

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