Nanoscale Science Department

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.



<div style="text-align: justify;">Spin Hall Photoconductance in a 3D Topological Insulator</div>
The strong spin-orbit coupling in three-dimensional topological insulators imparts a transversal spin Hall effect supported by their bulk states. It is demonstrated that the resulting spin accumulation at the lateral edges of Bi2Te2Se nanoplatelets can be effectively read out at room temperature through the local detection of a helical, bias-dependent photoconductance. The spin accumulation is further supported by the observation of a finite bias-dependent Kerr angle at the nanoplatelet edges.
<div style="text-align: justify;">The Structure of the Cobalt Oxide/Au Catalyst Interface in Electrochemical Water Splitting</div>
Catalytic properties cannot be understood without a detailed knowledge about the atomic structure of the catalyst. Here, we provide insight into the morphology of an atomically well-defined cobalt oxide oxygen evolution and hydrogen evolution catalyst supported on a gold substrate. Under operando conditions, the catalyst undergoes structural changes from one oxide phase into another, but persists as a thin layer. This highlights the importance of the supporting gold substrate in stabilizing the catalytically active oxide phases in the electrochemical potential window and explains synergetic effects between gold and oxide film.
<div style="text-align: justify;">Imaging Proteins at the Single Molecule Level</div>
In this work we demonstrate the imaging of individual proteins and protein complexes by low-energy electron holography. This is made possible by producing ultrapure samples of ultraclean freestanding graphene onto which individual, chemically selected molecules were prepared by soft-landing electrospray ion beam deposition, a preparation method which is chemical- and conformational specific and allows for a gentle deposition. Low-energy electrons do not induce radiation damage, which enables acquiring subnanometer resolution images which are not the result of an averaging process.


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