Nanoscale Science Department

May 06, 2023

Research efforts in the Department are centered on nanoscale science and technology with a focus on the bottom-up paradigm. The aim of the interdisciplinary research at the interface between physics, chemistry and biology is to gain control of materials at the atomic and molecular level, enabling the design of systems and devices with properties determined by quantum behavior on one hand and approaching functionalities of living matter on the other hand.



Measuring Electron Oscillations in a Quantum Nanodevice
The pursuit of realizing light-wave electronics, where one is able to drive, manipulate, and store electronic oscillations in solids by using light has the key perquisite of being able to directly measure electron oscillations. Nonlinear optical techniques can measure the consequence of the ultrafast electron oscillations in solids, but cannot unambiguously measure them directly in time. Researchers from Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (MPI-FKF, Stuttgart) and University of Stuttgart have now developed an innovative self-referencing method to directly measure electron oscillations in a quantum nanodevice.
Seeing glycans bonded to proteins and lipids at the single molecule level
We develop a methodology that allows glycans (carbohydrates) bonded to proteins and lipids to be directly observed. Glycan-decorated molecules are deposited on surface by electrospray deposition for their imaging at cryogenic temperatures. Direct imaging of these glycan-decorated molecules using a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope permits all glycan structures in a protein or a lipid to be determined at the single molecule level. Our approach opens new opportunities to determine structures of many more glycan-decorated molecules that play central roles in our health and diseases.

Watching and controlling atomic motion in a single molecule
Can one see how atoms move inside a single molecule? By performing ultrafast spectroscopy in a scanning tunneling microscope, researchers from Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (MPI-FKF Stuttgart) and Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) showed that the periodic motion of the atoms (vibrations) in a single molecule can be captured and precisely controlled. The work opens the path to directly capture the snapshots of atomic motion in molecules/materials undergoing chemical/phase transformations.
How to catch flying molecules without breaking them? Land them on a trampoline
We discover that landing macromolecules on an one-atom-thick membrane, like graphene, preserves the gas-phase 3D-structure of the molecules at the surface. By exploiting this dynamics for proteins landing on graphene, we are able to land folded proteins on surface and see them one-at-a-time by low-energy electron holography technique. Our approach opens new opportunities to visualize 3D-structures of many proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates at the single molecule level.


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