Biophysics Group / Nussberger Lab

Biophysics of the Cell

This lecture is designed for students in the bachelor's degree program in Technical Biology as well as for students of the master's program in Biomedical Engineering. It is part of the two-semester compulsory module "Biophysics" for students studying technical biology, consisting of the submoduli Experimental Physics and Biophysics of the Cell. The lectures focus on the physical principles necessary for visualizing the fine structure of a cell, on important methods used to isolate cell constituents, and on the mechanisms of diffusion-mediated and electrical communication.

General Informationen


Prof. Dr. Stephan Nussberger







  • Lecture course and Problem sets: Monday 11:30 - 12:15 Uhr / V55.21
  • Lecture course and Problem sets: Wednesday 8:00 - 9:30 Uhr / V57.01
  • Due to the current developments regarding the spread of the corona virus COVID-19, it is currently not possible to predict in what way the university teaching activities will be affected in the near future.
  • All lectures and tutorials will be recorded and placed in ILIAS for download from April 20, 2020.
  • If the lectures (Wednesdy at 8:00 am, lecture hall PWR 57 - V 57.01) and tutorials (Monday at 11:30 am, lecture hall PWR 55 V55.21) can take place within the framework of a class, a current overview of the lecture and tutorial dates will be stored in C@MPUS.

Main topics

  • Topic 1: Introduction into biological physics
    • Orders of magnitude
    • Spread of epidemics based on the SIR model
  • Topic 2: Methods for visualizing the fine structure of cells
    • Fundamentals of Wave Optics (Coherence, Interference, Diffraction, Abbe's Image Theory, Airy disk)
    • Important Contrast Methods in Light Microscopy (Brightfield Microscopy, Darkfield Microscopy, Phase Containment Microscopy, DIC Microscopy, Hoffman Contrast Methods)
    • Important applications and examples (optical properties of the eye, magnifying glass, light microscope, electron microscope
  • Topic 3: Methods of Isolating Cell Constituents
  • Topic 4: Molecular interactions
  • Topic 5: Mechanisms of cellular information transfer
    • Diffusion-mediated communication by messenger substances
    • Electrical communication and nerve conduction
Smart to know
  • A current overview with lecture and exercise dates is stored in C@MPUS
  • The exercises take place as lecture exercises.
  • All materials for the lecture and exercise are available for download in the ILIAS course.
  • Nelson Biological Physics: Energy, Information, Life  (Freeman, 2004)
  • Adam, Läuger & Stark Physikalische Chemie und Biophysik (Springer, 2002)
  • Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts & Walter Molecular Biology of the Cell (Garland Science)
  • Voet & Voet Biochemistry (Wiley, 2004)
  • Tipler & Mosca Physik (Spektrum, 2004)


  • The contents of the lecture and problem sets "Biophysics of the Cell" will be examined in written form.
  • The date of the exam can be found in C@MPUS.
  • The duration of the exam is 1.5 hours.
  • No further aids are permitted with the exception of a calculator and a sheet of paper with formulas. 
  • The overall grade for the bachelor module biophysics in the course of studies in technical biology results equally from the results of the examinations on "Experimental Physics" (Dr. Gompf) and "Biophysics of the Cell" (Prof. Nussberger).



Biophysics Group, Institute of Biomaterials and biomolecular Systems, University of Stuttgart

Pfaffenwaldring 57 , D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany

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