Molecular Manipulation Lab

The Lab

Low temperature SPM Low temperature SPM
Motion capture system Motion capture system
Oculus rift VR display Oculus rift VR display

Low temperature SPM

Our UHV-LT-SPM in the lab.

Our lab houses a commercial UHV-LT- NC-AFM/STM (Createc). In the MoMaLab we connect this instrument with a virtual reality human interface consisting of a motion capture system (VICON) and a fully immersive head-mounted 3D display (Oculus Rift DK2). This allows controlling of the SPM tip position in 3D simply by hand motion. The display shows the live trajectory and measurement data but can also show previously recorded data for reference. The virtual reality interface is also connected to our real-time simulation of the manipulation process such that an intuitive interaction is possible. Thereby we can gain real intuition for the mechanics at the nanometer scale.

Motion capture system

Low temperature SPM One of the paramount goals in nanotechnology is molecular-scale functional design, which includes arranging molecules into complex structures at will. The first steps towards this goal were made through the invention of the scanning probe microscope (SPM), which put single-atom and single-molecule manipulation into practice for the first time. Extending the controlled manipulation to larger molecules is expected to multiply the potential of engineered nanostructures. We enhance the SPM technique that makes the manipulation of large molecular adsorbates much more effective. By using a commercial motion tracking system, we couple the movements of an operator's hand to the sub-angstrom precise positioning of an SPM tip. Literally moving the tip by hand we write a nanoscale structure in a monolayer of large molecules, thereby showing that our method allows for the successful execution of complex manipulation protocols even when the potential energy surface that governs the interaction behaviour of the manipulated nanoscale object(s) is largely unknown.

[1] Moving Molecules by Hand, Beilstein TV Video Feature (2015)

Patterning a hydrogen-bonded molecular monolayer with a hand-controlled scanning probe microscope by M. F. B. Green et al., Beilstein J. Nanotechnol. 5, 1926 (2014)

Oculus rift VR display

Oculus rift VR display By adding Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles to our hand-controlled manipulation setup we provide the experimentalist with 3D visual feedback that displays the currently executed tip trajectory and the position of the SPM tip during manipulation in real time, while simultaneously plotting the experimentally measured frequency shift (Δf) of the non-contact atomic force microscope (NC-AFM) tuning fork sensor as well as the magnitude of the electric current (I) flowing between the tip and the surface. Furthermore, one has the option to load and display previously recorded trajectories for reference.

Virtual reality visual feedback for hand-controlled scanning probe microscopy manipulation of single molecules by P. Leinen et al., Beilstein J. Nanotechnol. 6, 2148 (2015)


January 19th, 2023

MomaLab is part of the Orbital Cinema project!

September 8th, 2022

Warmest congratulations to Taner Esat for winning the Gerhard Ertl Young Investigator Award for his outstanding work in surface science, particularly metastable standing molecules.

April 7th, 2022

Want to make your own standing molecule? "Design Principles for Metastable Standing Molecules" Read at J. Phys. Chem. C

October 10th, 2021

We finally knocked it down: "The stabilization potential of a standing molecule" Read at Science Advances Press release

October 22nd, 2020

Introducing machine learning to the nanoscale: "Autonomous robotic nanofabrication with reinforcement learning" Read at Science Advances Press release

July 2020

Our Helmholtz-AI project MomoNano (together with HZB and TU-Berlin) successfully competed for a three year funding by the Helmholtz Association.

September 2nd, 2020

"The theory of scanning quantum dot microscopy" Read at J Phys. Cond. Mat.
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